Friday, June 29, 2007

Bush takes a whuppin'

Yet another article in the Florida press on how the Republicans are flailing. This one from the St. Pete Times.

And while we're at it, take a look at the LA Times today, which reminds us that W has taken two body blows now this week: first it was Sen. Lugar bowing out as a Republican backer of the failed Iraq policy, and then the Gang of 37 Republican senators said no to Bush on immigration.

Don't count him out, though. They found a bomb today in London. That should be good for a new round of fear-mongering.

Don't neglect to scroll down a couple items and check the related stuff about Fred Thompson.

Eagles in Florida suburbs

Here’s the NY Times take on how Florida is home to a lot of bald eagles, and a surprising number of them are living like many of us – in the ‘burbs.

I fell in love with this article at the third paragraph. The wonderful idea that the eagles “have discovered their inner Updike” and moved to the suburbs got to me. I’ve been reading John Updike’s novels since Rabbit was a basketball player. That character has been in a cemetery plot for quite a while now, but the eagles are doing better than we might have expected and now are off the endangered list.

My boyhood home was in Dubuque, Iowa, where the spectacular town park on the bluffs over the Mississippi River is called Eagle Point Park. We never wondered about the name – there were no eagles to be seen in the '50s or '60s, so the name of the park must have been fanciful. Now if you go there you may see 15-20 bald eagles soaring over the Mississippi. Thanks to the ban on DDT and other conservation measures, they have been back now for years. In the summer I often visit friends who have a house on the Chesapeake, on the eastern shore of Maryland. It’s like over the Mississippi – sometimes a dozen or more eagles soaring over Tilghman Island, down past St. Michaels.

The Times article reports that some real estate developers see the presence of eagles as a marketing tool, which may end up creating larger conservation areas for the majestic birds. Let’s take that with a grain of salt. This is Florida, after all.

Good read on need for union strength

Tracking back to Wednesday here ... the NY Times business page had a thoughtful column by David Leonhardt on unions. Why, in these days of outsourcing to Bangalore, should we Democrats continue urging that Congress back unions' organizing strength?

The wingnuts with their talking points will always say that unions hold down competition or innovation or whatever, and that the economy suffers as a result. Well down in this column was a nugget of research that says unions do little to affect the overall performance of the economy, continuing:

"But if they don’t change the size of the economic pie, they do influence how it’s divvied up. All else equal, a union worker makes about 15 percent more per hour than a nonunion worker and also gets better benefits. So while there are many reasons inequality has increased over the last three decades — like technology and global trade — the decline of unions is certainly one of them."

The columnist favors the secret ballot over the card-check that congressional Democrats are backing but he said the bill that failed in the Senate Tuesday at least had the "worthy goal" of trying to level the playing field. Read the column here.

So, back to the drawing board. The goal is to tip the balance back toward more equality.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fred Thompson on Cubans

It seems wet-foot/dry-foot hasn't trickled down to Fred Thompson. What did he say about Cubans? Check it out on YouTube

This item is also rattling around on the Herald's political blog, Naked Politics. Don't see it yet in the main paper online. I guess a Republican newspaper wouldn't want to upset its readers over there on the right wing.

Second Update: Now I see this in the Herald, tucked into this story reporting that Hispanics are unhappy with the way the Republicans killed the immigration bill in the Senate. And that our Republican senator, Mel Martinez, has "no idea what I'm going to say" at the Orlando meeting of Hispanic elected officials from around the U.S.

O frabjous day, Republican disarray.

Update: Thompson's blog runs on about how Ana Belen Montes was a big spy for Cuba and tries to tie her into the problem of the porous border. But I see from a Google search on her she is of Puerto Rican descent and was born on a US Army base in Germany. Not exactly a balsera. I posted a comment to this effect on Naked Politics, link above.

Changes in election law

Via the state Democratic Party, here is a pdf file with summaries of changes in the election law. Would anyone volunteer to analyze?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


David Letterman announces that the Washington Post is running a four-part series on the vice president, so I better get a link to it up here.

If I'm a little tardy with this, at least our county party has already passed a resolution demanding impeachment of Dick Cheney. It was on June 11.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More immigration in the news

The new edition of U.S. News and World Report (July 2) has a cutting quote from Joe Garcia. But Joe, should we really be telling the Republicans what they're doing wrong?

The succinct article is yet another indication of how Democrats need to hold that line on a rational immigration policy. Don't let yourself get sidetracked by otherwise good-hearted people who have been suckered by fear-mongering talking points.
  • If they think immigrants reduce general wages and living standards, say it's not true.
  • If they think immigrants are terrorists, say it's not true.
  • If they think immigrants take work from "Americans," ask why the economy needs more immigrants to fill essential jobs, from farm fields to hospitals.
  • No doubt that the border needs to be an orderly place, but walls are bad symbols and just displace the traffic to other areas.
Our Republican senator, Mel Martinez, is portrayed in the article as working hard on the immigration bill. He's also blitzing new citizens, as the featured speaker on July 4 at Disney, according to the Miami Herald. Check out that article, and, like me, you may wonder if Republicans have a lock on speaking/performing at naturalization ceremonies.

DCCC said to target 5 U.S. House seats in FL

This item is not going to spread joy among us in Miami-Dade County, but the 2008 election is still a long way off and things may change. An AP story from Tallahassee said the national level of the
Democratic Party is targeting five U.S. House seats in Florida, none of them down here in the south. Here's the AP story.

This came to my attention via the Florida netroots, by the way. You, too, can join this Yahoo group and widen your horizon. Here's the link.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Gelber: Seismic shift in politics

Gelber with DFAM members

Rep. Dan Gelber, minority leader in the state House of Representatives, said the proposed property tax amendment will “fail badly” in Miami-Dade County next Jan. 29.

Gelber spoke informally Sunday to a reception of Democracy For America Miami-Dade at the home of Bret Berlin, state committeeman, with about 20 people attending.

Among his points:
  • Florida has been ruled by out-of-step right-wingers but now there’s a seismic shift in national and state politics.
  • New Gov. Charlie Crist is good on felons’ rights and other issues. “I like him a lot.” He’s less of an ideologue than Jeb Bush.
  • Where to claw back some revenue: in recent years $18 billion was given in tax concessions mostly to discreet companies and industries.
  • Term-limited, Gelber may run in 2008 for the State Senate if Gwen Margolis decides to retire.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Miami Democrats meet Rep. Delahunt

Rep. Delahunt meeting with Miami Democrats

You saw in Sunday’s Miami Herald, p.1 of the Metro section, that U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt was in Miami for meetings regarding Radio and TV Marti. Not mentioned was that quite a few activists with the Democratic Party of Miami-Dade met with him to learn more about Cuba policy developing in Congress.

Present were Millie Herrera, former State Rep. Annie Betancourt, Ricardo Sablon, former state party chair Alfredo Duran, Joe Garcia, Tom Rebull, Annette Tadeo, Pedro Julian Martinez, Cheley Martinez, Javier Metencourt and Augusto Granados from the Democratic Executive Committee. Others present were Pedro Frevre, Carlos Saladrigas, John Deleon and Gustavo Godoy.

Friday, June 22, 2007

New citizens boost Miami Democrats

For those who look at Miami and see an impenetrable Republican mass with a Cuban-exile stranglehold, a closer look is due. Now the better heart of Miami is rising – and not neglecting the tug of Havana. The Democratic Party got a new county leader this spring, Joe Garcia, a Cuban-American. In the 2006 election Miami-Dade county voters helped add two Democrats to the State House of Representatives.

A spirit of optimism rides higher with the polls showing Democratic presidential candidates whuppin’ the Republicans. George Bush is a flailing lame duck. Jeb Bush is term-limited out and starting to reap the big industrial bucks he is owed for two terms as Florida’s governor. His successor, Charlie Crist, acts more like a Democrat than anyone expected, seeming to sense the wave of the future.

The next step is ’08, and local Democrats are conscious that the fate of the presidential election may hang on their performance. We are not alone. We are getting help and advice from the national level. And our ranks are growing from a perhaps unexpected source – new immigrants, many of them Hispanics.

In the past week, two big media reports featured new citizens naturalized at mass ceremonies in Miami Beach. The Los Angeles Times story was headlined “New mood from new citizens” and it cited interviews showing the new Americans shunning the Republicans for being against immigrants. The Miami Herald did a similar story, and, while not specifically saying the Republicans were losing out, it also showed the new citizens advocating an easier path to legalization than many Republicans want for undocumented immigrants.

Meanwhile, a throng of Democratic Party activists joined other groups in the non-partisan drive to register the new citizens to vote on the spot as they came out of the ceremony. The result of the 200 the Democrats signed up:

· 123 Democratic registrations, 61.5 percent

· 48 Republican registrations, 24 percent

· 29 No-party declared, 14 percent .

Democratic signups outnumbered Republicans two-and-a-half to one. And this was without overt persuasion. It may have helped that Joe Garcia was there working the sidewalks to get people to sign up, and the party leader is well-known on Spanish-language broadcasting as a Democratic spokesman in Miami.

The LA Times quoted one new citizen from Cuba, saying that though he might have been considered “a natural Republican voter” in the Miami context, his opinion was otherwise: “I don’t know whether Bush is a Democrat or a Republican, but whatever he is, I’m voting the other way.”

Helping new citizens register to vote is nothing new, of course, but the Democratic Party is trying to put out as many volunteers as possible for these periodic ceremonies – the more clipboards, the more signups, and it’s fun: the customers are happy.

Beyond that, this is part of a national strategy that Joe Garcia has helped develop from the Washington-based New Democratic Network, where he runs the Hispanic Strategy Center. The idea is to cut into the large Republican advantage among Cuban-Americans in Florida. Older Cubans have gone 80-90 percent GOP, and were the core base for Jeb Bush and for the rise of the modern GOP in Florida. If this community begins to move away from the GOP, Florida will quickly become a blue state, or at least a much more competitive state for the Democrats in 2008.

This strategy looks to what happened in California, where a wild swing against the GOP took a competitive state and made it blue and progressive. The Republicans there suffered from having an anti-immigrant outlook, and the way they are handling the immigration issue now may hand the Democrats the presidency in 2008. And in South Florida, the Bush administration alienated many Cuban-Americans by restricting family visits to Cuba.

Simon Rosenberg, founder and executive director of the New Democratic Network, was in Miami earlier this year and told Democratic activists his rundown of the electoral vote in ’08. Start with the Democrats’ core of 248 votes, add the Hispanic swing states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Florida. Throw in Ohio (D-swept in ’06), and Iowa and New Hampshire. The total is 345 (270 required to win).

Rosenberg calls that speech “Dawn of New Politics.”

Of course victory doesn’t come on a silver platter. That’s why Democrats in Miami are forming new clubs, signing up new citizens to vote, and learning how to operate voter activation software. There should be many of us on the ground ready to work next winter when the nominee is chosen in that blitz of early primaries.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Yorker free online

It's a little surprising to be able to read everything in the New Yorker online. Maybe it's a short-term promotion. But anyway, it all seems to be there, even the cartoons.

The link.

The current issue has some top-notch political articles: Goldberg on the dismal standing of the Republican Party, Toobin on Bush's packed Supreme Court, Hersh on the dismissal of the general who investigated Abu Ghraib.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Chris Matthews said it

Exciting times on TV -- Chris Matthews says one of the bad words. Heat of the moment?
Crooks and Liars has it.

Why we need to keep working hard

Fresh off the polling data from Gallup -- confirmation of what we've known for quite a while. The Democratic Party has a bunch of winning presidential candidates. The link to MYDD.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Speaker's blog

If you want it straight from the office of our highest elected Democratic official, here's the link to Speaker Pelosi's blog.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Eating like a Cuban

Gleanings from a Herald blog on Cuba: The AP correspondent in Havana, Anita Snow, is trying to live on a Cuban’s rations. Not having much good to eat, she reports.

An important strategy for the ’08 election: new Democrats

Crowd outside Naturalization ceremony June 14

Register more Democrats. Yes, indeed, there’s a way to elect a Democratic president in ’08, with more Democrats in Congress. All we need is more Democratic voters. And how do we get them? Some voters can be persuaded to vote Democratic – great! So we hone our message to make sure it’s easily understood and appealing and honest. But that may not be enough. We need new Democratic voters. Where to find them? One place is as new citizens are sworn in – thousands of them at a time.

That is an important leg of our strategy for ’08 in Miami-Dade County. We help staff the voter-registration tables at the ceremonies. We register Republicans and independents as well as Democrats, suppressing our partisan natures for the day, and at the end of the day, the numbers show why the Republicans must be slinking around with their tails between their legs:

At the naturalization ceremonies on Miami Beach June 14, 2007:

123 Democratic registrations, or 61.5 percent

48 Republican registrations, or 24.0 percent

29 No-party declared, or 14.5 percent.

The Democratic Party of Miami-Dade County does not lead the registration drive, rather it supplies volunteers to sign people up after they’ve taken the oath. Democratic Executive Committee Chairman Joe Garcia was among the most hard-working volunteers at the June 14 ceremony. Leading about 15 volunteers was Bob Goldstein, a veteran Democratic activist, who said the ratio has been favorable to the Democrats for past months, despite the Republican-style exhortations the new citizens experience in the ceremony.

The Los Angeles Times did a front-page feature on the Miami Beach voter signups. Tips therein on why new citizens are turning away from the Republicans: war in Iraq, bad policy on immigration. (You may have to register to access the LA Times' fine story. One telling quote from a new citizen: "I don't know whether Bush is a Democrat or a Republican, but whatever he is, I'm voting the other way.")

It’s a long way still to Election Day, but we have some clear things to do and things to avoid. Signing up new citizens must be a big goal.

Update: The Miami Herald published a story on the same event in Monday's local section. The Herald didn't draw any party-political conclusions, but the new citizens all were quoted as saying they favored a path to citizenship for current undocumented immigrations. The link.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Blinded by Charlie’s light?

Some people seem to think that our Republican governor is such a mensch that everything will be OK. We’re forgetting that he had a running mate, and in fact while Charlie has been basking in approval, the other guy made quite a booboo. It was rumored for days in the blogosphere, and finally emerged into print in Thursday’s Miami Herald.

Here's a link to one of the blogosphere reports.

It was the Florida Progressive Coalition that did most of the detective work, so it gets an extra star for good effort.

Now, what's this about? The Republicans will claim some doofus ignorance about the "internets," as W says, or "the tubes," as the elderly Alaska senator for life says. But what was happening here was a little censorship. A Republican official (the lt. governor) editing out some unflattering personal information about himself. And doing it on a public forum where editing is only supposed to be done by qualified persons -- certainly not the subject of the critical item.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Precinct training soon

BJ Chiszar is preparing his next phase of training based in the DEC. He has launched a lot of people into the VAN – the Voter Action Network, so that we’re already calling our neighbors and inviting them into Democratic activism.

Next is PLP – Precinct Leadership Program, to improve our skills at the precinct level. BJ introduced it with a short talk at the June 11 DEC meeting, and was besieged with questions and followups. Seems that there’s a strong grassroots interest in our paid organizer's plans.

Looking for training? Call the DEC 305 477-4994, and ask for BJ Chiszar.

DEC Unanimous: Impeach Cheney

If the DEC had its way, the vice president would be on the way out. We proved it at the June 11 meeting by passing a resolution backing House Resolution 333, proposed by Dennis Kucinich, to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. It was put forward by the tenacious Charlotte Kleiman, who gave an impassioned speech urging the overflow crowd to back the resolution. On a motion by Cindy Lerner, it passed unanimously.

For more information on the resolution, there's a Wikipedia link.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Herald covers John Edwards in Key Biscayne

The Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog reports a few details on John Edwards' campaign stop at the Rusty Pelican while many of us were busy with the DEC. Here's the link.

The Herald also has a link therein to the NY Times Sunday magazine's cover article on Edwards.

Update: When the Herald got around to putting the item in print, it had grown hair -- a monster is what it became, a hairy monster, with (I counted) nine references to Edwards' famous haircut. This is the current election cycle's Swiftboat, and we need a new tactic to counter it. I fired off a letter to the Herald immediately accusing the paper of succumbing to triviality. Maybe the hairy monster is better ... Herald's link.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Endorse ... or wait ...?

Maybe this will be cleared up soon. The question: Is Congressman Kendrick Meek endorsing Hillary Clinton? In Friday's Miami Herald we who dug well back in the Metro section saw that the rising national figure from District 17 was for Clinton. On rereading, a careful editor might question the verb tenses. OK, did this happen? Or will it happen? And who said it?

On Saturday we who dug equally far back into the paper learned that it hasn't happened. Headline: "Meek says he has not endorsed Clinton." The article also added some attribution notes to the previous day's article, saying its news had come from "sources close to the campaigns of Clinton and rival Barack Obama." No mention of Meek among the sources for Meek's choice? Uh oh.

But all's OK, as Saturday's story concludes: "Meek told the Miami Herald Friday that the newspaper did not need to correct its story." All right.

Friday's story.

Saturday's story.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

In case you're not on John Edwards' email list

Be aware there are lots of opportunities to be with the Edwards campaign next Monday, including a possible touch-and-go at the DEC meeting. Here's the way the Herald's Naked Politics blog put it.

Wendy Sejour, Michael Calderin, the candidate, Larry Thorson, John Ise at an event earlier this year.

NY Times reveals Florida-Alaska smelly link

This story in Thursday's Times lays out our corrupt politics perfectly. And the corruption is so well camouflaged: the payoff went to a congressman from Alaska but the road to be built is in Florida. It seems that a lot of people are not going to stand for it anymore.

Read it and weep. The crowning touch is that this is the same congressman famous for the "bridge to nowhere." Or is the crowning touch the threat that You better build this road if you ever want any federal money again?

Update: Carl Hiassen picked up on this story for his column in the Sunday Miami Herald. His take. It's the perfect combination of politics, money and endangered wetlands for Hiassen; add an innocent stripper and here comes the next novel.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Debates in Spanish coming

Here’s an interesting wrinkle. Presidential debates in Spanish. The link.

Why do I hear Jeb Bush’s heavy footsteps?

No, I don’t mean that they’d all have to learn Spanish – it would be done with simultaneous translation.

A question occurs: How has the Spanish-speaking population been informed about these debates? Are they broadcast on the Spanish channels with voice-over translation?

This also has played big on DailyKos, which approves. The link.

I guess if we have a debate every week, financed by the networks, we could cancel all those silly negative campaign commercials.

Update: Bill Richardson has accepted the invitation.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Herald feature on religious left: local angle

Monday's Miami Herald has a feature on the rise of the religious left, pegged to the televised discussion tonight about values in politics among the presidential candidates. Our Dave Patlak is quoted in the piece, which has quite a lot of Florida in it.

Tonight's discussion is on CNN at 7 p.m., with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards on the panel.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Training with the VAN

Ben Wirz, BJ Chiszar, Charlotte Kliemann, Christina Albright -- a training session, and Charlotte is making her first call.

J Chiszar introduced 19 activists to the VAN -- Voter Action Network -- on Saturday at the DEC office in Doral. This was a fine turnout, and perhaps as many are expected Sunday as the Miami-Dade Democratic Party starts real action toward the '08 campaign.

The VAN is a tremendous campaign tool, but it needs people to pitch in and operate it, to plumb its data, to make the calls and walk the walks that its database lays out. Those people are raising their hands now -- from the DEC, from the clubs.

BJ was very pleased with the first day of VAN training. "This is the first step towards victory," he said. And many steps more will be taken before June is out. Stay tuned to this space.

Meanwhile, the group in this photo is an example of the way forward -- a mix of veteran and new activists. Charlotte Kleimann and Christina Albright are DEC members and veteran activsts, and Ben Wirz is a brand-new activist, just joined the (also brand-new) Biscayne Corridor Democratic Club last month. Welcome, Ben.

Lotta letters on Menendez columns

Reaction to Ana Menendez's columns finally surfaced in Saturday's Herald. For those not up on the background, scroll down in the blog to the post a few days ago on Menendez. Click here for Saturday's vox populi.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Condi on Cuba: major transition; Get with it, Spain

Your blogger is unsure how to deal with this. We recall that Ms. Rice was, like, no one had ever thought of flying planes into buildings, and she was, like, mushroom clouds into smoking guns. Did you know that she was on the board of Exxon before becoming W's guru, and they named a supertanker after her? The name was changed when she became a political figure. Now she's telling the Spanish how to run their affairs. Could she be right, for once? The link.

UPDATE: Couple hours later tells us that Condi was smirking to reporters when her Spanish host predicted she might change her tune. Guess she's using the same acting coach as W. This link is to a Bloomberg story.

Not getting enough news about Iraq? Try MyRaq.

Here's the answer to those suffering from a drought of war news. The Slogger link.

Buried down in one of the Arraf links therein is a clever new word: MyRaq. You know how Bush and a lot of Americans pronounce Iraq, like Eye-Rack. (It's more like ee-rock, but whatever.) I gather that it's a rhyme for MyRaq, which derives from an analysis in Ali Allawi's new book about his country, saying that Bush and the United States tried to impose "an imagined country" on the harsh realities of Iraq. That country, an official says, is called "MyRaq." Delicious.
The link.