Friday, September 28, 2007

Calderin kickoff fills the room

In case you weren't there Thursday evening, here's a video message from Michael Calderin, running for the state House of Representatives in District 119.

And here's a link to the text of his talk, posted on the Florida Progressive Coalition blog. Let's talk about the future. Go, Michael!

Add 800 to U.S. death toll in Iraq: Blackwater

I have a comment on DailyKos this morning urging people to read what you may have seen on the front page of your Miami Herald, the story from Baghdad about Blackwater's wild men and their Sept. 9 atrocity. This DailyKos diary, where my comment is posted, includes a link to a YouTube report backgrounding Blackwater. First I'd heard that almost 800 private contractors have died in Iraq, in addition to nearly 4,000 military deaths. Don't neglect to watch the video.

This sort of thing is only possible with the intense secrecy that follows the Bush-Cheney way of government. This must be reversed.

Here's the link to the Herald's story, with my kudos to McClatchy for a better story than what you'd read in the Friday NY Times or Washington Post on Blackwater.

UPDATE: Busy day. Getting to p. 3 of the Herald only at 1 p.m., and here's a related article from McClatchy's Washington bureau on how Blackwater screwed up and tried to cover up. A familiar tale of incompetence and secrecy.

Open letter to Mel Martinez

The following letter by Jody Finver was so well put that I'm posting it without any change.

Open Letter to Senator Martinez

Senator Martinez,

I think it is high time that someone define the function of your job as Senator of the United States from the State of Florida. (Mr. Nelson you could stand to take a lesson here as well so pay attention. Close attention.)

Your job is to represent the will of the people, the will of your constituents, the will of the voting public. Your job is to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Technically, I am your boss. You work for me.

You do not work for the President. In fact, your job is to keep him in line and in check. You do not work for a political party. You work for the citizens of your State. Even the ones who don't have a right to vote or are not old enough.

Your performance thus far as my employee has been woefully lacking. Not only do you not listen, it appears that you do not care the slightest for the voting citizens back home.

If you did, you would stop hiding behind rhetoric and talking points and you would stop perpetuating flat out lies. You would fight tooth and nail to restore the Constitution. A Constitution that your parents prayed to be protected by and believed in so fiercely they sent you here for a better life.

Instead, you have turned your back on Floridians who want Habeas Corpus restored, Floridians that know the real body count in Iraq, Floridians who care more about our troops than your voting record reflects, Floridians that risked their lives for a Freedom you are not fighting to protect.

I honestly don't think you consider the will of the people, Mr. Senator. I think you are more concerned with raising money and raising fear. In fact, when I called your office about the Petraeus Report and asked your staffer if you were OK with lying to the American public as long as it served the needs of this Administration she said, "Yes." And I asked it twice.

Stop turning your back on the Constitution. Stop turning your back on the will of the people you are supposed to represent. Stop turning your back on our burned-out troops. And stop turning your back on the millions of Iraqi lives this country is responsible for taking.

The fact that the Senate wasted so much time over a print advertisement in the New York Times is infuriating. Shame on you all.

This is not what I am paying you for. Stop wasting my money, my time and my freedom.

Jody Finver
Miami, Florida

Bill Clinton on the Petraeus ad

Our sharpest political analyst rips into the Republicans on the MoveOn ad that told the truth about Gen. Petraeus. Here's the link to the CNN interview of Clinton done by Anderson Cooper, for those who haven't heard it. I caught it on Air America a day late, so maybe there are others like me in the Stone Age who would enjoy hearing Bill Clinton's view of it.

The only little fault in this is that some Democrats voted for the Senate resolution, too. Not Hillary or Dodd, who voted against. Obama abstained and called it a stunt. Biden stayed in Iowa.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cigar Afficionado, please note important news

To explain his vote against children's health, U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart -- I swear this is true -- said he was protecting little businesses that roll cigars. I heard this on NPR Wednesday morning. I forget what the connection was between the vote on SCHIP and small tobacco businesses, and was unable to find it on the WLRN website archives. If anyone else heard it and remembers the link, please come aboard and comment. The reporter also was surprised at what the congressman said and asked for more information. Diaz-Balart said it's true that the businesses are small, but they were making a living and should be protected.

Well, we know now what the congressman thinks of a good smoke. More imporant than getting more children good health care.

UPDATE: The link is that increased tobacco taxes are to fund the widened insurance coverage, and the congressman worries that some cigar rollers will be put out of business.

Calderin kickoff Thursday 7:30 pm

In case your calendar is broken, don't forget that the future of State House District 119 will be available for autographs (that's your autograph on a check to him) at Hooligan's, 9555 South Dixie Highway, at 7:30 Thursday evening.

Michael Calderin is having his campaign kickoff for the 2008 election. Don't be late. It will be great. Put Michael in the driver's seat.

UPDATE: Here's a link to a campaign video with Michael's message up on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

GOP expects to lose more House seats: Politico

And here's why they're on the way out (aside from a thousand other problems they face) -- they are against children's health. Count our South Florida Republicans among the child-hostile sitting ducks. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen all voted against legislation that would add millions of children to the SCHIP program. It passed the House with some Republican support but not enough to be veto-proof.

So there are two headlines on Politico tonight:

GOP expects to lose more House seats

GOP S-CHIP tactics leave opening for Dems


Footnote: all three of our South Florida Democrats in the House voted for the legislation, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ron Klein and Kendrick Meek.

Who's giving keg parties for 15-year-olds?

You all saw the horrific story about the young black college student who got beat up and nearly drowned in what looks like a hate crime. The Miami Herald's front-page story Tuesday reports that the four arrested suspects are 15 to 18 years old, and that the attack happened after a keg party in the Intracoastal Waterway near Haulover Park.

Now I'm wondering why such under-age types are out in public at a keg party and it goes on until 1 a.m. when all restraint has been washed away in beer foam? And no adult interferes?

Luckily a Bal Harbour cop was writing a traffic ticket not far away and was part of the effort to stop the fracas. As one who often drives through that area and sees up to a half-dozen police cars writing traffic tickets, I ask: Why aren't the police doing something about public disorder rather than farming the public for inconsequential traffic fines?

Property tax referendum may get new life, say the misleaders

The Republicans may not have given up on misleading. Their leader in the state Senate, Ken Pruitt, wants to appeal Monday's ruling that declared their writing to be opaque and incomprehensible, thus striking out the Jan. 29 referendum on property taxes. Here's the Miami Herald's story on this Tuesday development.

The Herald also had a nifty column by Fred Grimm laying out the grief heaped upon Weston Mayor Eric Hersh, a Democrat, who filed the lawsuit leading to the judge's ruling. It seems a PAC funded attack ads on cable TV, rang many phones complaining about the mayor, sent out similar junk mail, etc.

Welcome to dirty politics, with plenty of money behind it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Judge to Republicans: Stop misleading Florida

There's a refreshing ruling.

A judge in Leon County tossed out the ballot referendum on property tax reform. It was to have been on the Jan. 29 ballot when the presidential primary vote is held. Said the judge, "The summary is just not correct. In fact, it is misleading."

House Speaker Marco Rubio ramped up on CBS4 and declared of the Democrats: "It's the biggest tax cut in Florida's history, and that's why they're against it."

Marco, didn't you hear the judge: Stop misleading Florida.

Here's the PDF file of the judge's ruling, from Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog. Scroll down to p. 6 to see the truly opaque language that gave the judge a migraine.

Elder care in Florida makes Times Page One

Browsing around the NY Times, I happened to see the list of the most-emailed articles from the Sunday Times. Surprisingly, it was a long, dry article about nursing homes. On the one hand, its popularity was testimony to the large number of boomers among the Times readership; they have nursing homes on their personal horizons, not to forget their aged parents. On the other, I wonder, could the popularity be due to the large number of people who are feathering their nests with nursing homes?

The drift of the article was that the elderly seem to be getting worse care from homes bought out in recent years by private equity groups that are more immune to lawsuits than publicly owned companies.

If true, this is a deep black eye for capitalism, for compassionate conservatism, for the corporate culture that is so prevalent in our country in the 21st Century. If their claimed virtues are valid, the owners should be providing excellent care and value for their elderly inmates. But it seems not the case.

In their defense, the few owner-types who could be found for comment declared that their takeovers of nursing-home chains had made it possible for them to continue caring for the elderly. Otherwise, they were going out of business. Who, then, would take the job?

This was the lead article in the Sunday Times, with a complex circular diagram on the front page showing 4-5 levels of ownership and operation for one home in Tampa, Habana Health Care. Company after company providing this service or that, administration or operation, and none to be found to carry responsibility for actual health care.

This is a serious challenge to the progressive view of elder care today. If a Democratic president launches reform of elder care, how to find accommodation with a system where huge and secretive companies are in charge?

And this is, as you may imagine, a Florida story. Where are there more elderly people? Where more nursing homes? Where else was Jeb Bush in charge for eight years?

“Regulators have been stymied,” the article reports of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration.

Welcome to reality.

Here’s a link to the Sunday Times story, which is part of a wider series on “how businesses and investors seek to profit from the soaring number of older Americans, in ways helpful and harmful.” The series link is

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Vote on Jan. 29: Your vote will count

Sometimes we can be so pessimistic. Vote on Jan. 29? Heck no, it won't count ... will it?

Wait a minute. Yes, Florida has some problems with votes not counting. But that doesn't mean you should give up just because of a Republican-engineered flip of the finger at party rules.

The Florida Democratic Party made it official Sunday at a news conference in Pembroke Pines with Chairwoman Karen Thurman : Yes, vote on Jan. 29 "and make it count."

"The nation will be paying attention on Jan. 29, and Florida Democrats will have a major impact in determining who the next president of the United States of America will be," she said.

A score or more of state and local Democratic leaders stood with her as she made the announcement and fielded questions from a skeptical bunch of media reps who seemed to have swallowed the Rovian line that the vote wouldn't count, the delegates wouldn't be seated, the candidates will ignore all of poor Florida's desperate needs, and the sky will fall.

After Thurman declined to answer the third or fourth iteration of that list, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) stepped in and said she would urge all to vote for the nominee of their choice. "We will make sure they count," she said, and the Florida Democratic Party expects the state's delegates to be seated at the Denver convention next summer.

Sen. Bill Nelson said in the party's written statement that the vote will certainly count, and "On Jan. 29, there will be multiple elections and other important issues on the ballot in Florida, whether the DNC recognizes the vote or not."

Miami-Dade Chairman Joe Garcia said, "Florida elects presidents. On Jan. 29 we will have a bigger impact than any caucus or small-state primary. The eventual nominee will seat our 210 delegates next year and our voice will be heard."

One of the keys to this, my friends, is to cease fighting among each other over the whole affair, and proceed to get out the vote. One way or another, the vote will count.

Please vote on Jan. 29

It seems this will be officially announced later today: the Florida Democratic Party has decided to stick with the Jan. 29 primary date. It may cost the state its delegates at the presidential nominating convention next summer, but the chances are that the nominating process will get strong input from Florida's voters, and the delegates will be seated -- at one stage of the convention or another.

Here's a link to the AP story on the issue, and it's also here in the Miami Herald.

I'd be happier if the Florida Democratic Party made it clear that the more important issue on Jan. 29 is the constitutional amendment on property taxes, and that people should vote no.

Along those lines, wise words came from State Rep. Luis Garcia, who was quoted in the Herald as saying, "We are not going to disenfranchise our people and take away take away their incentive to go to the polls."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Progressive landslide in '06

Paul Krugman's new blog, announced a couple posts ago (i.e. yesterday), has a juicy item that may help explain why we are so disappointed that this Congress has not ended the war and accomplished a lot of other progressive goals.

It reminds us that the popular vote in 2006 was a landslide victory for the Democrats. This was only 10 months ago -- we remember; it has not been dumped from folk memory. We also remember how we thought it would add up to a lot of change, which hasn't materialized.

Krugman's short post compares the 2006 result with the Republicans' sweep in 1994, which the media made out to be a tidal wave. The Democrats' popular vote for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006 had a margin almost 2 percentage points higher than that 1994 result, but the media didn't play it up so strongly, for some reason.

Here's the link to the Krugman piece.

Do we remember how we felt going up to the 2006 election? A little apprehensive, maybe? Uncertain how well the Democrats would do? Some confidence, but not a lot? Now, how do we feel about the approaching 2008 election? Trying to avoid over-confidence, I'd say.

OJ case gets impeachment on the air

Diane Lawrence and friends in OJ's driveway

Quick thinking, gang, way to go! It was early Thursday morning and Diane Lawrence’s daughter called and said there were a lot of TV trucks at O.J. Simpson’s house in Miami. Diane is passionate about impeachment, and in less than two hours she was out there in OJ’s driveway waving a sign demanding impeachment of Dick Cheney (Bush, too).

And a half-dozen of her friends from Democracy for America and related Democratic clubs were with her, also waving signs such as “OJ killed two, Bush killed 1,000’s” and “Cover the real story -- Iraq.” A passing car stopped and two girls got out and joined the demo for over an hour, Lawrence said.

This inspired protest has been on local radio and television in Miami, and did anyone see it on MSNBC? Some say yes. There's a snip of it in this report on Channel 4 CBS.

Lawrence said one of the broadcast reports included her juiciest comment: “The real criminals are in the White House.”

Her view of OJ: “A trashy story.” A lot of people honked in agreement with her.

UPDATE: Cross-posted on DailyKos, where the comments so far are admiring of this action.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NY Times stops charging for goodies

As of today, the thing called Times Select no longer exists. No charge for New York Times opinions, etc. Now I wonder if those people who used to pay for it feel the same way I do about overpaying for the iPhone. Tom Friedman was not worth much, anyway.

UPDATE: And we also have the first post of Paul Krugman's new blog, called The Conscience of a Liberal.

John Dean in Miami

John W. Dean with Shirley Alexiou, president of Democrats of South Dade Club

File this under Club News: One way to get a good turnout for a club meeting is to band together with other clubs and have John W. Dean come for a speech and book-signing. Almost 300 people will show up, and they’ll have a really good time and leave their names and addresses for followup.

So it went Tuesday night, as the crowd came close to filling the main hall at Temple Judea in Coral Gables. The sponsors were the Coral Gables Area Democratic Club, Democrats of South Dade Club, and Democracy for America Miami-Dade.

“I’m surprised that Republican clubs didn’t sponsor me,” Dean joked as he launched into an analysis of our present political pickle from his point of view as a registered independent.

“I am a partisan for one thing, and that’s good government. I know when it’s broken and I see when the processes are not functioning properly,” he said.

To him, Dick Cheney is at the center of all the problems that come with the Bush administration, and it derives partly from Cheney’s experience in the Watergate era, which Dean knows oh too well, partly from Vietnam, partly from 9/11 – all of which made Cheney think the power of the presidency needed to be strengthened.

“It’s going to get worse if this so-called ‘unitary executive theory,’ which no one had heard of until Samuel Alito was nominated for the Supreme Court, and then became known in the press, goes on,’’ Dean said. It had been “dreamed up by a bunch of lawyers in the Reagan Justice Department” to control regulatory departments.

The result is the title of his new book,” Broken Government,” with the subtitle “How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches.” Also available for signing were earlier books including “Conservatives Without Conscience” (2006), in which Dean describes the authoritarian personality behind the current type of conservative.

There are not only authoritarian leaders but also authoritarian followers who submit too easily, are intolerant, arrogant, likely to pick on the weak, “and they will follow the leader off the cliff,” Dean said.

He cited work by Theodor Adorno and Robert Altemeyer on the authoritarian personality. Altemeyer’s recent book, “The Authoritarians,” is available on the internet free at this link.

Republicans are good at winning elections because of their authoritarianism, Dean said, “and there is no such thing as a left-wing authoritarian.”

I guess the lesson is that to win elections we need to throttle down our eternal need to squabble about details – witness the current swamp about the early primary date – and concentrate like good little soldiers.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Can Lobbyists stop the war?

This is a very long read in the NY Sunday Times Magazine but for me it was worth the slog. Some questions answered, such as:
  • What's going on with the Democrats in Washington? We gave them Congress, why aren't they ending the war? Not enough votes, and some are afraid to appear to leave the troops in the lurch.
  • Why aren't there giant demonstrations a la Vietnam? It's not only the lack of the draft, there's also a fear that civil society might break down. (I would add that we don't have the assault weapons.)
  • What is Americans Against Escalation in Iraq? A coalition spearheaded by MoveOn but with many other groups.
  • They all specialize in online movements and television ads and polls -- another reason for fewer big demos.
The same issue of the magazine has another tremendous long article on Rudy Giuliani and one almost as long on a neo-con who dared to buck the Bush-Cheney drive for dictatorship. The second is not available free online, but there's a review of his book with the hot title of "The Terror Presidency."

Fox would call this fair and balanced

Two posts ago there was some bragging here about a bit of news coverage of some of our Democratic-backed anti-war actions over the weekend, but in fact we were crying inside about the quick demise of Raul Martinez’ radio show.

Leave it to Joe Garcia, our chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, to wipe away the tears with a ripping statement on Monday:

"Just when we thought a strong, progressive voice had finally made its way on to the Spanish language airwaves in Miami, WQBA and its management decided to blackmail Mayor Martinez, refusing to allow him to continue his radio show unless he promised not to pursue elected office -- a decision he has yet to make.

“This is an outrageous affront to a committed statesman and certainly smells foul of a station who, along with the administration of Univision Radio, has shown no desire to censure the cacophony of Republican voices on its airwaves.”

Makes me wonder what Martinez, the former mayor of Hialeah, said on the radio. He got the hook after only a week on WQBA 1140 AM. They knew before hiring him for the one-hour daily gig that he might run for Congress against Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21).

Chairman Garcia went on with his statement:

“Perhaps WQBA's decision is tied to the hundreds of thousands of dollars poured suspiciously into its parent company and sister stations by GOP lawmakers in the federal government for the purpose of airing Radio and TV Marti propaganda.

“Further disheartening is the fact that the Democratic Party worked together so successfully with Univision to host the groundbreaking Spanish language forum with our Presidential candidates a week ago. Of course, Republicans continue to refuse this invitation to speak with the Hispanic community.

“Mayor Martinez deserves better and the people of Miami certainly deserve equal time given to members of any political party. We maintain a strong spirit of commitment to work with Univision so that their audiences are given fair chance to hear the Democratic message of change and progress that they are desperately asking for."

WQBA calls itself “La voz de Miami.” Yeah, maybe La voz of a certain part of Miami.

Not the last progressive in Spanish

Now, all is not lost. There still is a progressive voice on the Spanish language radio in Miami. It’s on every Thursday evening 8-9 p.m. on 1550 AM, where Millie Herrera and Hector Caraballo hold forth on Democracia al Dia. They have been on the air since April 5, volunteering their progressive hearts and skills.

“We still need ads and contributions,” Herrera appeals. “We’re making headway but please consider placing an ad on our program. The prices are right.”

And in English we still have the 6-9 a.m. voice of Nicole Sandler on WINZ AM 940, and a lot of good local talk on 1080 AM WTPS the People’s Station.

UPDATE: Not to forget the Florida Progressive Coalition's daily internet radio show, 2 p.m. live, later available in the archives. Check it out at this link at BlogTalkRadio. Good listening.

Musical interlude for peace

This video leaped out from DailyKos today among tributes to David Cline, the second prominent veteran peace activist to die recently. Those of us at the impeachment rally on Saturday heard Sam Feldman announce Cline's passing. He was a leader of Vietnam Veterans against the War, like Bill Davis, who also died recently. Someone had the brilliant idea of posting a link to Cat Stevens' live performance of "Peace Train." Here it is. Enjoy.

Click here for more on David Cline.

Wikipedia reveals that "Peace Train" was released in "Teaser and the Firecat," 1971.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Miami protests getting some coverage

There is a sea of right-wing media around here, but sometimes we manage to get a few syllables of protest into the local news. This weekend was one such example, and the MainStream Media were not immune to our charms.

The local CBS outlet, Channel 4, covered two anti-war protests Saturday with considerable Democratic input, one on South Beach, the other a march to the office of Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. Here’s a link to the video, which wrapped in protests in Washington and the president’s radio address.

A lively rally to kick off a drive to impeach President Bush got a few lines in the Miami Herald in the local news briefs, but that wasn’t bad considering that NBC Channel 6 sent a crew but didn’t broadcast a report. That event was sponsored by the South Florida Impeachment Coalition with local speakers and featuring a stemwinder by David Swanson, a cofounder of

“Who will do for Bush what Monica did for Clinton?” Swanson asked the full-house crowd in the Unitarian Universalist Church, and nine people volunteered to help.

Swanson ticked off all the reasons people give for saying impeachment is impossible and argued persuasively that the reasons were bogus.

Not enough time, for instance: It took three months to approach impeachment of Richard Nixon, two months for Bill Clinton, he said. Plenty of time. Transcript of his speech and more photos available at the Downing Street link above.

Activist Diane Lawrence vowed to lead protests at Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ office, up to refusing to leave. “If that’s what we need to get attention, that’s what we will do,” she said.

Swanson was introduced by Nicole Sandler of WINZ 940 AM. She has taken over the early-morning time slot where she formerly worked with Jim DeFede, who has left WINZ. Sandler said her news director has given her the go-ahead to feature impeachment, so expect that topic with your granola and progressive tea.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dying man recaps life of activism and service

Here’s how to win. You have a super message. You campaign as hard as you can.

Is that enough to win? No, I don’t think so. You also have to show you care.

This lesson came home to me today after some quiet time pondering the life of Bill Davis, who died Sept. 5. He was one of the early leaders of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Lucky me, I’m a Vietnam Vet, too. Lucky me, I was in Chicago a month ago for the YearlyKos bloggers’ convention -- held at the same time as the VVAW’s convention. I went to a VVAW social event one night and got on their membership and email roster. I don’t believe I met Bill Davis, but since his passing I’ve come to know his thought. Today, in rolled an email from VVAW with the full list of YouTube videos from speeches and interviews he gave in recent years. It took an hour or more, but I watched all the way through as a dying man summarized a life of activism and service.

This link is to the VVAW press release that has links to the YouTube videos. Take 15 minutes and listen to Parts 1 and 2 of his talk at the VVAW Activists Panel in August. His passion comes through the obvious pain of his illness. Sample some of the older videos, when his voice was stronger.

VVAW seeks to help people. That’s one reason it still is a strong organization -- well, there is an unjust war under way, but that’s not all. “VVAW has never stopped working to protect the welfare of those who served their country,” is part of its mission statement.

Davis said veterans kept coming to VVAW because it set up counseling centers and lobbied fiercely for veterans’ benefits. “We will provide for others, we will serve the people. We are activists, and activism means work,” he said. The organization’s goal was “peace and benefits for all veterans.”

That’s why I liked the Miami-Dade Democrats' recent (but lightly attended) work day to clean up North Shore park in Miami Beach. We were doing something to help -- and it was great to hear the thanks we got from park visitors.

Can we do this more often? In fact, we should get ready, as the Florida budget crisis may lead to less cleaning of the beaches.

I'm reviving the slide show from that day of beach cleaning, at least for a while.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Really good Republican corruption reminder

There is a link in the second graf of this post on Stuck on the Palmetto to a clever reminder of Republican scandals you may have forgotten. This is Washington we're talking about, where the scandals are big, and Slate has rounded up about two dozen of them. This is how loyal Bushies make a living.

But the link above is specifically to today's Miami Herald, and more specifically to Ana Menendez' column with its jaundiced view of the Republican attack on Raul Martinez. We went through a lot of this yesterday. Ms. Menendez appropriately puts this in the category of the pot calling the kettle black.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Quick response to flap around Raul Martinez

Not letting the ink dry for long: Joe Garcia, chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, lept to the defense of former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez after the Republican state chairman, Jim Greer, ripped Martinez for hosting a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton on Monday.

"It is beyond ironic that the Republican Party, responsible for the most corrupt administration in the history of this country, would attempt to discredit a distinguished public servant like Mayor Martinez," Garcia said. "Of course, the GOP fails to mention that Raul was exonerated of all charges."

"The people of Miami-Dade County, including all of Raul's supporters in Hialeah, see right through this campaign. Ultimately it's a clear sign that their fears are coming true. The public is calling for change, and as they launch these attacks the Republicans lose more and more of the electorate's faith – including that of the Hispanic community," Garcia added.

Garcia also looked for the reason behind the Republican blast: an inroad that Raul Martinez is paving into the Republican dominance of the Spanish-language airwaves. On Monday Martinez will begin hosting a talk show on WQBA 1140 AM, 4-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

All this is fodder for the grist mill churning up talk that Martinez will run for Congress against Lincoln Diaz-Balart. The Miami Herald reported Tuesday that Martinez hasn't decided whether to run. "But if I do, I'll give anyone a run for their money," he was quoted as saying.

Mayor of Hialeah for 24 years, Raul Martinez garnered immense popularity as a Democrat in a city with a large Republican majority. He was prosecuted for alleged corruption but successfully appealed a conviction, and two subsequent trials ended in hung juries. Despite these distractions, he led Hialeah to new levels of excellence, bringing about successful public works projects and groundbreaking infrastructure and transportation improvements. Hialeah's affordable housing program is a national model for excellence. He was elected to eight terms, twice unopposed, before stepping down in 2005.

Fl-18 watch: fresh post at the link

Slide on over to Eye on Ileana for a challenge to those with video cameras.

9/11 reading hits the spot

DailyKos hit the spot this morning. One rather technical post on polling showed the way the public is trending against the war, and in it was the observation that the math in Congress requires that Republican members of Congress abandon the Bush warpath before we can end the war/pull troops back.

The very next post was fresh news that a Republican member of the House, Jim Walsh of NY-25, was abandoning the Bush warpath. Now that’s a satisfying read. And by the way, today is 9/11 of 2007.

Our technical guru has a blog

Carol Cox is the founder of DemsLink, which does all sorts of wonderful work making the computers sing the Democrats' song. She has a recently started blog, with some of her observations about the Univision debate/forum, and others can comment, too. Here's the link to it.

Her blog also has a string of comments on our moved-up primary date, and if she says OK to my recently drafted comment, you can read in a nutshell what we all ought to be thinking and doing now and through Jan. 29. This is also the party line, though you'll be hard-pressed to find it in a party organ. Why this is being kept quiet, I don't know. Not me, though.

Real gone Gonzales

Some of you elders may have enough gray cells to remember when it was way cool to say something was gone, or real gone, if you liked it. Now we’ve got gone-Gonzales approaching -- on Friday, to be exact.

How do you say Schadenfreude in Spanish? Yes, indulge your Schadenfreude this Friday with a party to celebrate the end of one of the worst chapters in the history of our Department of Justice. Our friends at DFA-Miami-Dade are the organizers. The site is Tobacco Road, 625 S. Miami Ave., Miami 33130, 6 p.m. Friday Sept. 14.

And for extra credit, here’s something to read to reinforce your suspicions about how bad this reign of injustice under Alberto Gonzales has been: a recent backgrounder in the New York Times on the imprisonment of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, on what seem like pretty flimsy charges. Thanks to the gone-Karl-Rove and the gone-Alberto-Gonzales.

UPDATE: An even more scathing report on the Siegelman kangaroo trial is on DailyKos on Tuesday. When someone is convicted in today's federal courts, we should always ask about the bio of the judge, and by whom appointed. This judge was of course a loyal Bushie. He insisted on a conviction when the jury wavered. As I've said before: Anyone remember the vast right-wing conspiracy?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Chris Dodd campaign has a nice toy

Photo from my iPhone

By accident I bumbled into Chris Dodd's news conference at the Biltmore Hotel Saturday morning and met their campaign blogger, Matt Browner-Hamlin, who was operating a live webcast of the event while hardly lifting a finger. Wow. The news conference even included a question from someone watching on line.

You can see the result with this link to the Dodd blog. Those who know Spanish can see how fluently the Connecticut senator speaks the language.

As Dodd announced his menu of changes to Cuba policy, he had a sterling group of Hispanic supporters beside him including a former chair of the Florida Democratic Party, Alfredo Duran. Dodd's Cuba policy is available on the campaign website. It's fair to say there isn't a brick left standing of the current policy. All walls down, and let's open an embassy in Havana and negotiate regular flights.

One of the reporters tried to get Dodd to say he'd rush off to meet Castro, but Dodd said that wasn't the issue: being ready for new policy was more important.

And what about the ban on campaigning due to the Florida primary mess? Are you campaigning today, Senator? "I'm campaigning every day."

More Cuba -- it's the Univision weekend

This story is the big feature on the front page of Saturday's Miami Herald, so many of you have already seen it. It talks about the increase in migration from Cuba since Fidel Castro's illness was announced a year ago. The story also finds the reason why more are leaving, or at least what they say: they don't see much chance of freedom or prosperity after Castro, so why wait.

One more point of interest for me: the Herald's repeated use of the word illegal to refer to these migrants. This usage is, of course, quite common. But as it happened, I had just read a post in the MYDD blog in which Rudy Giuliani rejected the use of illegal to refer to people in the country without visas. And as he said, he was U.S. attorney in New York and he oughta know what's illegal and what's not. It's not a federal crime to be an immigrant without a visa, and those in that situation are processed through civil court, not criminal court. There you are: from Rudy's lips.

Now let's see what words our Democratic presidential aspirants use in this situation. And I will continue to wonder at the Herald's use of illegal. No doubt they've hashed it over and decided that's the word to use.

Chris Dodd is featured in Miami Herald's Univision story

Saturday's Herald has a tidy preview of the Univision debate forum, featuring Chris Dodd's most open position on Cuba policy -- end the embargo.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Gotta read Army Times for news on local Congressman

The Miami Herald sees the polls that say the public doesn’t respect Congress, and apparently they stop covering our members of Congress. So thanks to a Yahoo! Alert, I got news of the Army Times story today reporting how South Florida’s own Ileana Ros-Lehtinen follows the military-industrial-complex script in questioning a witness.

“Lawmaker criticizes GAO over war expertise” was the headline on the story, and you can read the whole thing at this link.

At one point she said, “I’m not saying you’re bean counters.” Translation: You are bean counters. This is called a cheap rhetorical trick.

Problem for her was, the Government Accountability Office is supposed to look into student loan programs, not the war in Iraq.

So when witness David Walker, the U.S. Comptroller General, reported that the Army is “stressed, stretched, strained,” our representative in Congress said, “What in the world qualifies you to say that?”

Well, hasn’t everyone in the Pentagon been saying that? Where has she been? I guess our representative in Congress was over at the Leadership Institute learning the script, because soon she brought out one of the biggest neo-con talking points: The Good War.

“I just can’t imagine at one point during World War II, if we would have gotten a report from the General Accountability Office about whether we’re meeting the benchmarks on D-Day,” she was quoted as saying, and here she must have wandered off in her mind because the Army Times report says she then wondered about the effect on public morale.

She attacks the credibility of the GAO rather than the war it was tasked (by Congress) to examine, and a Democrat from Texas, Gene Green, reminded her of that and added, “You’re attacking the messenger instead of the message.”

Yes, she was over there learning the neo-con script, which of course features attacking the messenger right up with cheap rhetorical tricks and mentioning The Good War in the chapter about pulling the wool over the public’s eye.

Maybe it’s too hard for the Miami Herald to write about this stuff without laughing. Problem is, though, it’s too serious. Thank you, Army Times.

UPDATE: Was I too quick to nag the Herald on this topic? One hour and 17 minutes after I put up this post the Herald's Naked Politics blog posted something, too -- noting that Ros-Lehtinen is catching heck from the blogs for her treatment of the GAO.

UPDATE II: My friend Dave Patlak invites all to assemble near Ros-Lehtinen's office next Tuesday, Sept. 11, and urge her to do the right thing when it comes time to vote on bringing the troops home. The time is 4-7 p.m. at 8660 W. Flagler St. (at 87th Avenue), Miami.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Good news for the blogosphere

Confirmation that the new media are dangerous to the health of Republicans comes from the shrinking Republican body itself -- in the form of attacks. Recently a right-wing blogger complained to the Federal Election Commission that a progressive blog like DailyKos needs to be regulated like a political action committee.

The complaint got thrown out the other day with little time wasted. The FEC's conclusion was that the blog was media rather than a PAC. This link gives the FEC news release on the issue. Here’s the recent post on DailyKos about it.

The Florida blogosphere has a mixed reaction so far. My favorite guru in the Sunshine State, Ken Quinnell, said it was "very good news" for what progressive bloggers are trying to do in Florida.

But then today a more cautious note rolled in from Brian Franklin of Impact Politics, also a thoughtful analyst of the scene. Looking at Florida's legal landscape, he advised being "really careful" because "our state is very behind the times in terms of adjusting its campaign laws to reflect the advances in communications."

Debate/forum question

The Univision debate/forum is only three days away. Is that enough time to study up on the issue of trade pacts? Here is a suggestion for a debate question from Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer. This is one reason I'm not running for president: what the heck to say about new trade pacts with this country and that?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Unvision debate coming soon

Here's a post in the Florida Politics blog reminding us how the Republicans are doing their best to shoo away the Latino vote. It quotes from an editorial in the Tampa Tribune remarking how the Republican presidential aspirants all gave up on the Univision debate in Spanish, while the Democrats are booking their tickets to Miami for their debate next Sunday.

And do you have your ticket to the debate? There's a lottery that you can register for at the local party website,

Waffle House rendezvous

This may not have made it into the Herald. Credit the Stuck on the Palmetto blog for my discovery of its presence in the Sun-Sentinel, and the question is: Could there be a tunnel from Cuba to Broward County that lets a bunch of Cuban migrants turn up at a Waffle House in Oakland Park?

New blog listing

Today there's a new name on the blog list appearing down in the right-hand column. It's Eye on Miami. Here is a site to check for news behind the news. Today we can read who's the new guy on MDX and what he does for a living. Detail instead of the hints we get in the Miami Herald. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Come to think of it, let's also add Stuck on the Palmetto to the blog list.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Belated report from the racial front

This is very belated. It happened in May, but heck, it just emerged from the cybersphere, and we all ought to know about this utter defeat of the KKK/Nazi front.
The link is here.