Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wrapping up the taser case

A huge story when it happened, the tasering ends up on P. 6B of the Miami Herald when it's getting wrapped up. More or less inevitably, the victim of the tasering is obliged to apologize. Well, he was being obnoxious.

Since Sen. Kerry was involved in the original incident, I'd like to hear whether the Swiftboaters are apologizing. Oops! Sorry for being irrelevant.

The Herald link is here.

Halloween strip

Happy Halloween!

Greetings from Raeann Shively, age 2 months, daughter of my niece Stephanie and her husband Ken of Springfield, Colorado.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Big tobacco and our Republican members of Congress

I almost missed this from the Saturday Miami Herald, which was not part of my hectic day at the Florida Democratic Party convention in Orlando. Thanks for the tip, my friend.

We're starting to see more clearly into the haze around our three Republican members of the U.S. House, and it's cigar smoke and money in that haze. It's why (they say) they vote against SCHIP. Golly, it's "an attack on the Cuban-American community," Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) is quoted as saying in Beth Reinhard's weekly column in the Miami Herald.

Many posts back I was puzzled at a fragment I heard on the radio in which one of the D-B brothers said something about cigar-rollers being the victims of the SCHIP bill. How so? I wondered. Then I heard that the connection was that increased tobacco taxes would fund the extra outlay for children's health insurance, and our South Florida cigar-rollers would fall by the wayside.

Now the Herald column makes it even more clear: tobacco interests are big donors to Lincoln (FL-21) and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18).

Well, let's try to develop that more in the coming days.

Playing for keeps: progressive strategy

Thanks to a brief intro on DailyKos that caught my eye, here is the latest rendition by our gurus, the NDN gang of Simon Rosenberg and Peter Leyden (the rest of the NDN gang is Joe Garcia), of their vision of the future. It's like 1932, and we're embarking on a half-century of government by the good guys. Check out their article in Mother Jones.

We will be required to work like dogs (quoting Debbie Wasserman Schultz) to win the elections along the way, but otherwise the cards are stacked in our favor.

To learn more details, drop in on the web site and be prepared to stay and study for a while.

And if you are dubious about their guru status, I refer you to "The Argument," the recent book by Matt Bai, about progressive politics since the '04 election.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Joe Garcia wins Golden Gavel

More news from FDP Convention. Party Chair Karen Thurman gave awards to DEC leaders around the state who've done especially good jobs organizing the party, and Miami-Dade party Chair Joe Garcia now has a fine new Golden Gavel.

Congratulations, Joe!

MORE Joe: Our chair also is all over this Huffington Post piece previewing the FDP convention.

Jan. 3 caucus date for Iowa Democrats

This is the earliest ever. Decided Sunday evening in a conference call, Iowa Democrats will caucus on the first Thursday in January, the day of the Orange Bowl game, Jan. 3. Mark your calendars -- in pencil.

I grew up reading the Des Moines Register; here's the link for you to sample it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Best line at FDP convention goes to Dan Gelber

My convention was fun and interesting. Not like my first, two years ago, when Howard Dean, John Edwards, Barack Obama, Mark Warner and Tom Vilsack were strong orators, stirring the crowd and displaying the strength that the Democrats would present for the 2008 election. It was still only 2005 then, but it was already clear how badly the Republicans were leading this beloved country, and what an opportunity it was for us in the ’06 midterms and the ’08 presidential elections.

I made up my mind then as to who was the best presidential candidate. This blog, however, is neutral, and you have to know me personally to see whose button is on my shirt. I haven’t changed my mind. I’m laying this out so the reader will understand why I’m not upset that the Democratic candidates are staying away from Florida. I don’t need any more information to make up my mind. Those who gnash their teeth about the supposed lack of attention paid to Florida are wasting their dental enamel. Florida will NOT be ignored. Its needs WILL be met. Even if the candidates stay away right up until November 2008, Florida is too important to be left out of the federal budget or limelight. Squealing and wailing is, to me, a sign of insecurity.

The Florida delegation at the Denver nominating convention will be seated, one way or another, and their votes and our votes in the primary will count. I confess to feeling annoyed when the media report that the Florida primary will all be in vain, or votes won’t count, or even that they won’t be counted.

Sorry, this is a Rovian conspiracy to keep Democrats from voting. The Republicans always are trying to get Democrats to stay away, and this entire affair has been a Karlish trick to drive down Democratic participation in the Jan. 29 election. For a while, they were trying to slip some wild property tax change through as a referendum, but now it looks as if they have screwed it up too badly for that to happen. We’ll know for certain about this by Monday night, when the legislature must pass something to get it on the ballot by Jan. 29.

That area (the budget and taxation) needs more careful consideration than something slammed together behind closed doors and presented at the deadline – though that’s the way the Jebbian party operated for eight years, so we must be careful that it doesn’t happen again.

So my appeal goes like this: Please, stop suing others in the Democratic Party. Please, stop shooting ourselves in the foot. Instead, be united as Democrats. Concentrate our fire on Republicans.

A little ridicule is good. Here I’m taking Dan Gelber as my model, and I see that his raking comments at the convention were picked up by the media. Let the Republican candidates campaign in Florida as much as they like, the leader of the state House minority Democrats said.

“The truth is, the Republicans are here almost in excess,” the Orlando Sentinel quoted him as saying in his Saturday speech. “You see these Republican candidates everywhere. And the more you hear about them and see them, the less you like them.”

The Miami Herald picked out a different line from Gelber’s speech: “All they do is trash our candidates and pander to their base,” he was quoted as saying. “I think we should keep them in the state of Florida as much as possible.”

The Herald also opined that the posters distributed for Gelber's speech were “deliberately ambiguous” in that they said he was running “for Senate” without saying exactly that he is running for the state Senate. Wow, it could also mean the U.S. Senate, and the bumbler incumbent, Mel Martinez, will be up in 2010.

The plot thickens. And lengthens.

As we speculate on that, let’s follow Karen Thurman’s admonition. Concentrate on building the grass roots, the state party chair said.

And we have the wisdom of our own Miami-Dade County veteran, Maria Roberts: “I feel very positive about building the Democratic Party, and that’s what this convention is all about,” the Herald quoted her as saying.

To that end, the netroots gang showed up 60 strong for a series of workships Saturday afternoon on how to do a better blog, a better website, how to organize an on-line community, how to be a candidate with an on-line presence. We're at the heart of the Florida Democratic Party now, and we need to continue getting ready to we can pounce into action when the nominee becomes known -- February, shall we say?

UPDATE: This post vaulted to the front page of the Florida Politics blog Monday morning. Check it out at this link. And read on there, too. Florida Politics performs a valuable service in summarizing what's happening, what's reported, in our political scene.

EVEN MORE: The Netroots blog has more detail here on the Netroots workshops. A lot of good information was transmitted, and we could watch in awe as the tech experts made those laptops work.

Very proud candidate

Michael Calderin won a nice award at the Florida Democratic Party convention in Orlando -- "netroots candidate of the year" in voting run by the party's Netroots Coalition. He is running for the Florida state House of Representatives in District 119, and may the netroots award be the sign of his ultimate victory in the 2008 general election: Landslide coming, All aboard!

I clicked on the incumbent to get a picture of the district, which is in the western suburbs. It looks kinda like a dinosaur with a little propeller at its bottom. Guess I didn't get enough rest while attending the convention. It may have been that mojito at the Hispanic caucus bash (broken up by the police ...).

Very proud blogger

Kenneth Quinnell presents the "best professional blog" award to Larry Thorson

Your blogger is back from the Florida Democratic Party convention with some loot -- an award from the party's Netroots Coalition for the "best professional blog." Don't let yourself think that this blogging is lucrative, and thus the word professional. No, in that sense, I'm back in the pre-Avery-Brundage era of unpaidness. This is blogging for the love of it and love of good Democrats.

Thanks so much to those of you who joined the drive to stuff the ballot box -- you did it!

Friday, October 26, 2007

How did it get so bad?

This is a good reminder of the harshness of the times we now inhabit: the land of the free and the home of the brave (that's us) has gulags under wraps, ready for those who might try to reach our shores in large numbers in the event of catastrophe (political or otherwise). Link here to the Huffington Post's recall of some of the stuff behind the president's "tough talk" speech on Cuba the other day.

We must wonder and analyze more closely how we got to this position. And for starters, a large part of it is not directly attributable to the land of the free and the home of the brave. Osama Bin-Laden gets a lot of blame for working to maneuver us into a corner. But why did we free and brave people go to that corner?

Last week I saw the movie "Kingdom," set in a Saudi Arabia where Americans are under violent attack. At the end (stop reading here if you still may see the movie) the U.S. hero confides that he told a grieving friend earlier, to raise her morale, that we would kill them all. Cut to a Saudi mother and 10-year-old son: She asks him what his dying grandfather whispered to him, and it was, Don't worry, we will kill them all.

Though this is wildly simplified, it has a kernel of truth about our times. It was not like that 20 or 30 or 40 years ago. How did it get this way? Is there a way back that doesn't involve zillions of dead people?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

We're advertising on line in the Miami Herald

As you save 35 cents by reading the Miami Herald on line, don't feel cheap. As of Friday, your generous donations to the Miami-Dade Democrats are helping pay for a raft of Internet advertising in the Herald.

We have officially endorsed three candidates for the Nov. 6 municipal elections, and the ads boost the party and the three candidates -- Marc Sarnoff for Miami City Commission, Jonah Wolfson for Miami Beach City Commission, and Amanda S. Garner for Homestead City Council.

UPDATE: Two more candidates now have our official endorsement: Fernando Alvarez, running for Hialeah City Council Group 1; and Darwin Brett Brown, running for Homestead City Council Seat 4.

And you'll see that if you click on the ads, it will take you to the form where you can make a donation, and fill up the treasury again.

Thank you in advance!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Miami Herald headline: "Bush to talk tough" on Cuba

They are catching on, even at the Miami Herald. This administration is not much good at getting things done, but enjoys talking tough.

W promotes numerous attitudes toward Cuba: aid “if Cuba takes a democratic turn,” as the Herald summarizes it. Well, that’s looking into the future, for sure. Just how is that democratic turn supposed to happen? Nothing done in that area.

Meanwhile, numerous suggestions for actually influencing events in that direction have come up and withered for lack of attention from Washington – and not only in this administration, one has to confess.

The human right of keeping family connections? No, under W we’re going the other direction – banning Cuban Americans from visiting family in the mother country more often than every three years.

Your blogger spent many years abroad as a news correspondent watching as the Soviet empire decayed, and it was not advanced by banning family visits. The direction went the other way: encouraging family visits, more often the better, so that Western ideals and ways of life could be seen by those behind the Iron Curtain.

And the Iron Curtain is no more. In fact, its life, measured from the end of World War II until 1989 when the Berlin Wall opened, was 44 years. How long has Castro been able to stay in power? I don’t know whether it’s because of – or in spite of – the U.S. policy on Cuba. It’s an ineffectual policy. Increasingly unpopular. It’s only ideology that keeps it alive.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Virus, shmirus – let’s get together

Something odd hit my email inbox during the weekend. From someone whose name I barely knew came an email with a vast tower of addresses, followed by the single word test.

I looked at it and wondered why Rachael Lee Coleman, the managing editor of the Miami SunPost, would send me a test. I had had a few exchanges with her predecessor but no contact with Ms. Coleman.

My suspicious mind tossed up the concept of the dreaded virus. And life went on.

Monday morning my inboxes were starting to fill up faster than normal, and a lot of the incoming had that same vast tower of email addresses, followed by the single word test, and then one more single word: received.

It was looking more like a virus, I suspected. A few more emails down the pike, and I saw that others were suspecting virus and saying so. Still, it didn’t grow exponentially. My two computers and two email-account inboxes did not ex- or implode.

Coincidentally (as it happened), I was getting emails bounced back from an editor at the Miami Herald, and I suspected that the Herald’s meager servers might be glutted with zillions of those messages with vast towers of email addresses. I called the Herald’s local news desk – No, no advisories from our firewall people, she said. Guess it must be a concern for them.

I also asked the Associated Press if anything was up. Again, not a hint. Queries to several other people more i-intelligent than I also yielded nothing, and then in the afternoon it became clear:

Ms. Coleman sent this to the vast tower of addresses: “I apologize for the initial mass email. I did not send it – our computer guy was here fixing my computer over the weekend and inadvertently emailed everyone who had ever been emailed from this computer. As this is not a mailing list, please do not reply to these messages. I sincerely apologize for any problems this has caused.”

Then came another little rush of emails to all of us – now a community of hundreds of local people, as we could guess from the email addresses, hardly any of them clearly out of town.

Commented one Helen Hill to the community – and to Rachael Lee Coleman: “So you’ve got all of us – disparate people – linked only (by) a computer guy’s error, buzzing at the messages. Some are angry at the intrusion, others happily applaud the idea of turning lemons into lemonade with a new network!

“It’s the perfect parody of an online community site.

“Good work!”

Suzanne Valentine, with a dot-UK email address and maybe the most distant recipient, commented, “My particular favorite so far is Rachael’s apology about the email blast by way of an email blast – such irony.”

Humorist Buzz Fleischman, familiar to those of us who are addicted to WLRN, chirped in with a suggestion “to all my new friends.” His idea: “I think we should all get together and meet face to face. I will recognize you by the bulge caused by 250 or so business cards in your jacket pocket. Talk about networking.

“I guess this is an opportunity to ‘network’ so here’s my website.”

A philosophical note from Jonty Braun: “Many of the world’s greatest inventions were created by a harmless error. Nothing like a random event to make new friends and for shameless plugs. Thanks computer guy!”

Jonty also left a web address: “Check out perfect for your holiday shopping.”

In the spirit of things, I’m going to fire of a “reply to all” and lay my blog on them, too. Shameless plug.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bill Maher vs First Amendment

In case you haven't seen it elsewhere.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

The analysis starts on our three Republican (soon to be ex-) members of Congress

All it takes to start the ball rolling is a week of radio ads -- in Spanish, no less.

The analysis has started to percolate now that the Democratic establishment in Washington has written a check for a week of radio ads in Spanish criticizing our three Republican members of the U.S. House.

Well, they are proven opponents of healthy kids, now that they've voted to uphold the Bush veto of the SCHIP bill. So it must be pretty obvious that they're vulnerable in the '08 election. We're not the only ones to notice this. It also hit the thinkers at the Swing State Project, which analyzes "key races around the country," according to the banner on its web site.

So, we are now key races. That's a change of pace. People will be looking. Maybe even the Miami Herald will have to cover the candidates and their activities in the Herald's home county. I have been in the Herald building a few times -- a vast place teeming with staff and work -- and then while working on Dave Patlak's campaign for FL-18 (soon to be ex Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) last year I wondered why they never could spare anyone to cover our events. What were they all doing, if not covering congressional races.

Ah, later as election day drew near, it became clearer, though not satisfying. The editorial would come out saying that Congress is held in low esteem, but they'd endorse the incumbents anyway. Just a second: Isn't that a non sequitur -- that's Latin for Dummkopf-style thinking.

Anyway, the key races will have drama. In politics, that's big swing, meaning a lot of people seem to be about to change their minds.

This long analysis in Swing State Project rests on the report in The Hill (cited in my post earlier today on Raul and Joe) about the three Congressional races. And here's the drama and the nut graph in the SSP article:

"Could one, two or all three of these incumbents end up being the next Henry Bonilla, the Texas Republican who got trounced by Democrat Ciro Rodriguez in a district with a similarly red PVI (R+4.2) last December? Florida Democrats are eager to put the three incumbents to the test and are actively seeking challengers."

Oh, yes. As they say, let's "take these districts for a spin."

GLOSSARY Item: PVI, I'm told, stands for Partisan Voter Index, a way of measuring how strong one party or the other is in an electoral district. The numbers for the three are:
  • CD 18-- R+4.3
  • CD21-- R+6.2
  • CD25-- R+4.4
Meaning they seem to be pretty reliably Republican. Until, like Henry Bonilla in Texas, the other side trounces his R+4.2.

THANKS to: Michael Calderin, for tipping me to the SSP item. Michael, running for State House District 119, has a long comment on the SSP link reminiscing on his run against Mario Diaz-Balart last year in District 25. Highly informative.

Mel Martinez out as "general chair"

Mel Martinez is out as so-called “general chairman” of the Republican Party. I have a little comment up on DailyKos pointing out the announcement, and also asking whether this can be taken as confirmation that the Republicans are shifting further racist on immigration. Can’t stand having a Hispanic on top? Is that right, fellows? He must have shrunk in his guayabera a year ago when the Republicans were running a TV ad making Hispanics out to be potential terrorists. That's your party, Mel. Were you no longer willing to be their front man? Or did they give you the boot?

I don't know which to hope for. My hope is for the Republicans to be an honorable opposition.

UPDATE: State Democratic Chairwoman Karen Thurman put out a statement Friday evening counting Martinez' departure as one in a series of Republican debacles this week, featuring their vote in the House to uphold the SCHIP veto. They need better Republicans, Thurman said, offering a spoof web site devoted to drafting Katherine Harris.

Check it out at and have a couple good laughs.

Will Raul run? And Joe? The Hill asks

Joe Garcia (left) recently on Spanish-language radio

This article in The Hill, the congressional newspaper, lays out what may be our races for the U.S. House of Representatives in Miami-Dade County. Raul Martinez vs. Lincoln Diaz-Balart. Joe Garcia vs. Mario Diaz-Balart. Someone vs. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Raul Martinez has been in this blog before as a potential candidate for Congress. Joe Garcia hasn’t. Now, as many of you know, Joe Garcia is my boss, and I could ask him what he intends. But I’m waiting for him to tell me, and what he told me was that The Hill article has it right.

And what does Joe say in The Hill article? He would run if the party asked him.

Raul says he will decide in the next few weeks, so that someone else who’s thinking about the challenge will have plenty of time.

Read it here and factor it into your plan for political donations for the ‘o8 campaign. And keep in mind that the national party sent a nice signal of future support when the DCCC took out ads on Spanish radio this week against the three Republican House members. That hasn't happened in many years.

And, oh yes, drop in to the DCCC website and see what they announced for their fund-raising accomplishments in the third quarter. "Record fund-raising" brought in $16 million in the third quarter and the DCCC has $28.3 million on hand. This was the third consecutive strong quarter.

The photo shows Joe Garcia in a recent appearance on "En Ruta," a weekly Dominican radio program, with Tomas Pena, Pablo Rodriguez and Victor Sepulveda.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Double-the-vote party tonight!

How does $100 per vote sound to you?

Aaarghhh, you say! You and I are in full agreement. Why does it cost so much? Why do so few people vote?

The antidote could be a kickoff party tonight sponsored by a webroots thingy called Go there and click on Events and learn where and when. Check that -- The events link doesn't always work, so here are the party details:
  • When: Thursday Oct. 20 (TODAY) 6-9 p.m.
  • Where: Bayside Hut on Virginia Key (second left after bridge)
  • Chef: some say should run for office, more competent than most.

This information comes from (among other tips) the printed-fresh-weekly Sun Post, Rebecca Wakefield's thoughtful column, linked here for your edification.

UPDATE: The kickoff event was good. The Miami Herald was there. Stuck on the Palmetto was there. Lots of others I didn't know. Good folks who want more people to go out and vote. Celeste Fraser Delgado, publisher of Category 305, said the goal was not to double the vote by this election on Nov. 6, but rather by 2010. They are canvassing and trying to find young people of voting age wherever they are and convince them to vote.

Good luck!

You are welcome to go to their web site and find the link to contribute and back their noble goal.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No more free ride for South Florida Republicans in Congress

Demo Oct. 16 at Ros-Lehtinen's office. T-shirts supplied by SEIU, which is fighting hard against the SCHIP veto.

We’ve been demonstrating in the streets against them -- the three Republican members of Congress from Miami-Dade County. The Democrats up in Washington must have heard us: The Democratic Party is starting to run radio ads against the three for their support of President Bush’s veto of the SCHIP bill on children’s health insurance.

And true to their ghastly form, they trotted out all the tired adjectives and adverbs in response: “extreme left,” “pathetic partisan,” “distorting the truth,” “massively raising taxes.”

Don’t you wonder what they’d say if something really were wrong? Why don’t they say that about the disastrous war? The humongous deficit?

Hey, folks -- we’re talking about health insurance for children here. A ton of your Republican colleagues in the House voted for the bill that Bush vetoed. Are they all pathetic left-wingers too?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Tuesday it was buying ad time on Spanish-language radio to target Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21) and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25).

"In their districts, Republicans are feeling the heat for supporting President Bush instead of the health care for Florida's kids," DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen said. "We will continue to go district by district to hold Republicans who continue to vote in lockstep with President Bush and against children accountable."

The name of the campaign is “Putting Children First." The initial ad buy is for one week.

The ad running against Lincoln Diaz-Balart says: "El Presidente Bush en contra de los niños estadounidenses. El Congresista Diaz-Balart tiene que tomar una decisión entre el seguro médico para 10 millones de niños o en continuar su apoyo a Presidente Bush, quien esta dispuesto a quitárselos. Dígale a Lincoln Diaz-Balart que escoja a nuestros niños."

English Translation: "President Bush versus America's kids. Congressman Diaz-Balart has a choice: health care for 10 million children or continue to stand with Bush to block it. Tell Lincoln Diaz-Balart to choose our kids."

Mario Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen have similar ads targeting them.

And of course, they’re running with a disclaimer: “The DCCC is responsible for the content of this advertising, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.”

Which brings up the fact that there are no Democratic announced candidates for the three seats. Former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez has been in the news as a possible candidate against Lincoln Diaz-Balart, but hasn’t announced.

The election is still 13 months away. But the campaigns have started. Look out, you anti-kid Republicans! There’s a landslide coming!

The Miami Herald hopped on the story quickly -- a link to the Herald story.

Friday, October 12, 2007

“Work like dogs” to over-ride SCHIP veto

Ron Klein and Debbie Wasserman Schultz at news conference in Miami Beach
Oh, make those phones ring!

Two Democratic members of Congress joined community health workers in urging the public to call Republicans in Congress to over-ride President Bush’s veto of the SCHIP bill.

“We’re going to work like dogs for the next week to make sure that when that vote comes up next Thursday that we get the 15 more votes we need in the House to over-ride the president’s veto,” U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) said.

Bush was giving a speech on trade in downtown Miami Friday afternoon as Wasserman Schultz and U.S. Rep. Ron Klein (FL-22) and health workers spoke at a news conference at a community health center in Miami Beach.

“This callous veto will have a real impact, a devastating cost, to our nation’s kids,” Wasserman Schultz said. “He is trading away their well-being and a hope for a better future. The president might as well be a million miles from here.”

Klein disputed the president’s claims that the bill would expand the state health insurance programs. “It simply maintains current law regarding eligibility. President Bush keeps talking about $80,000 (in family income level) but that’s not accurate…. We’re putting more money in so we can expand it to additional children," Klein said.

The pediatrician at the community health center, Dr. Lannie Vuong, said she was completely behind the drive to over-ride the veto. Tracy Britten, a single mother with an asthmatic 9-year-old daughter, spoke on behalf of the Human Services Coalition.

Martha Baker, a registered nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, said the public should lobby their representatives. Baker, who is president of Local 1991 of the Service Employees International Union, named the three Republican members of the U.S. House from Miami-Dade County, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21) and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), and urged people to call them.

“Tell them how important it is to do the right thing. The richest country in the world needs to support kids to get good preventive health care, health care when they need it,” she said.

The U.S. Senate passed the bill with a veto-proof majority. Although many Republicans in the House of Representatives voted with the Democrats to pass the bill, the majority there fell short of the two-thirds required to over-ride the veto.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

3Q donations figures show us well behind

Two items on the Herald's Naked Politics blog this morning should prompt us to get out the checkbook. Here are the Democrats in Florida with something over $1 million, and the Republicans in Florida at $4.7 million.

If you're like me you've had email appeals lately from the party. Come on, give a little.

Last night I attended the campaign committee meeting for Miami-Dade County. We already are planning for the election 13 months away. Your help will be needed, and I don't mean just an hour of phone-banking. While you're writing that check, feel free to add a note with your best ideas for how to ride the wave to victory in '08.

Facebook group grows like topsy against Republican congressmen

They called it "South Floridians for New Leadership" and got it started on Facebook last week, Oct. 4. Its targets are the three Republican members of Congress in Miami-Dade County, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21) and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25). Within a few hours it had more Facebook signups than its targets did, and now it's around 150. If you're on FaceBook, sign up and join. Otherwise, sign up for Facebook, and then join. Here's the link to the site.

Thanks to the students at Florida International University for starting the group.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

12-year-old boy takes heat from wingnuts

Here, too, we have kids protesting the veto of SCHIP. From a demonstration Oct. 4 at Lincoln Diaz-Balart's office in Miami.

Last weekend the Democratic weekly radio speech was given by a 12-year-old Baltimore boy, Graeme Frost, who talked about the way the SCHIP program had helped his low-income family overcome injuries that he and one of his sisters suffered in an auto accident. The far right wingnuts not only attack SCHIP, they go after the C in the acronym -- the CHILD who dares to speak against them. You'd think a kid would be safe from political combat, but no, the wingnuts are after him full blast: read about it here on DailyKos.

Here in Miami-Dade our Chairman Joe Garcia criticized Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21) with a rather mild comment on the Republican congressman, who votes against SCHIP for American children but then enjoys publicity for helping handicapped Ukrainian youngsters. The congressman's taxpayer-financed office ripped into Joe as "pathetic and pathological." Well, goodness, such heat.

They must be so nervous as they see oblivion ahead -- the permanent minority status that their cold ideology deserves.

UPDATE: The saga of Graeme Frost is on the front page of the NY Times Wednesday, as well as many other places, and the NY Times editorials include a plea to over-ride the veto.

UPDATE II: I heard Rush Limbaugh defending his smearing of the Frost family. I was in the car and couldn't take notes, but one of his bloviations was especially memorable: The Frost family priced health insurance at $1,200 a month "which they clearly could afford" so they chose not to have health insurance, he said. This is one of the wild arguments used by the wingnuts: that it was a "choice" of the Frosts not to have coverage. How should a family making less than $4,000 a month come up with a third of its income for health insurance?

Where, I ask, is the compassion in the Republicans' position? Doesn't compassion start with understanding of the other person's condition?

Incidentally: Limbaugh declared himself the best candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize today (maybe lots of other days, too, I'd guess). This happened in the context of his reaction to Al Gore's being considered for the Nobel. As Limbaugh himself said, why not him, since Yasser Arafat was a winner.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Take instruction from Flipper – Please!

One day he votes against the health needs of children in the United States, another day he extends himself for the children of the Ukraine.

That’s our Republican congressman from South Florida, Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21), who went to the Miami Seaquarium Monday for a “press availability” with handicapped Ukrainian children receiving treatment in Florida. This is wonderful in itself, except for the wider context of his votes against the SCHIP program.

We can only hope that the congressman takes inspiration from Flipper and changes his mind before the Oct. 18 scheduled vote to over-ride the veto.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Millie Herrera elected to lead Florida Democratic Hispanics

The new leader of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida, Millie Herrera of Miami, aims to energize and expand Democratic Party activities for the approaching 2008 elections.

The Cuba-born Ms. Herrera was elected unanimously Saturday at a meeting in Orlando of delegates from Democratic Hispanic caucuses from Miami-Dade, Broward and Hillsborough counties.

“We will soon establish a Democratic caucus in Lee County, and plans are moving along for one in Osceola County,” she said.

Joe Garcia, chair of the Miami-Dade County Democrats, welcomed the election of the activist and Hispanic leader. “We are very proud of Millie Herrera and know it will help us build toward victory in 2008,” Garcia said.

She and other officers will be installed Oct. 27 at the Florida Democratic Party convention in Orlando, where U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, is the featured speaker both for the state party convention and the Hispanic caucus’ side session.

Other officers elected are Michael Suarez of Hillsborough County, first vice president; Andrew Torres of Broward County, second vice president; Arthur Costa of Miami-Dade, treasurer, and Cathy Bartolati of Hillsborough County, secretary.

Dear editor

The Sunday Miami Herald gives almost three pages to readers’ letters in the Issues and Ideas section, in two areas in addition to the regular letters section next to the editorials.

One is the back page of the section where 10 letters appear with reaction to the recent “Poverty Peddlers” series.

The other is on page 2L with about as many letters on the columns on immigration by the Herald’s ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos, who revealed the amazing story of himself being an illegal immigrant.

Bravo, Miami Herald!

Talk about health care …

While we’re thinking about the millions of children whose health care becomes more difficult or impossible with the president’s veto of the SCHIP bill, give a thought, too, to the people who do not survive their encounters with our health care system.

Edwidge Danticat’s uncle, for instance, who died in the Krome immigrant detention center for no good reason. She has a book out about this, powerfully told in the Miami Herald at this link and other places recently. Some of the comments at the link are of the viciously anti-immigrant variety. Adult supervision suggested.

Another victim: Martin Lee Anderson, 14-year-old inmate of a boot camp in northern Florida, who was beaten by guards for a half-hour. Not exactly health care, you say? What about the nurse who was present?

As we fix the health insurance business in the near or middle-distance future, let’s not forget that government health care is not the perfect answer.

UPDATE: Airports need to be considered along with hospitals as venues for critical health care. You'd think that people traveling should be in pretty good order, but in fact they may be in delicate condition. Roger Cohen's column in the Monday NY Times reminded me of the recent death in the Phoenix airport of Carol Ann Gottbaum. She became hysterical after missing a flight and was shackled and left alone in a holding cell, where she died. The column has a memorable phrase describing airports as "temples of zealotry." Remember the poor deranged man shot to death getting off a plane in Miami a few years ago? Here's the link to Cohen's column.

Somehow, we look down on some other cultures for lack of respect for life.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Joe Garcia on the tube Sunday morning -- Live

Watch if you can: Michael Putney’s local public affairs show, “This week in south Florida,“ will have the chairs of Miami-Dade and Broward Democrats on Sunday at 11:30 a.m., Joe Garcia and Mitch Ceasar. That’s ABC Channel 10 on my ancient set.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Rush drives Republicans to new low

Again DailyKos and its vast network of analysts have filled me in. I would have gone to bed ignorant of the fact that the Republicans now are using Limbaugh's "phony soldier" faux pas to raise money. But before putting the hood over the computer I looked in on DailyKos, and so I can let you, too, enjoy Olberman's calm evisceration of the guru of the golden microphone.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How Blackwater and SCHIP fit together

Blackwater may soon rise to equal standing with SCHIP as major details in the collapse of the Republicans in the White House and Congress. You heard it here first.

Two developments hit my brain especially hard today. One was President Bush’s veto of the SCHIP legislation, the other was a pair of stunning revelations about Blackwater (in addition, of course, to their atrocities):
  • The chief operating officer of Blackwater is the former Pentagon inspector-general, Joseph Schmitz, who retired from military service under fire for stonewalling investigations of malfeasance.
  • Blackwater helped a convicted Iraqi-American to escape from an Iraqi prison where he was to serve time for corruption. Now the guy’s most likely in Chicago, pining for another appearance in the Oval Office with W (the pardoner).
This sort of activity can only flourish in an administration that is corrupt and secretive. Add arrogant to that -- what other than arrogance could make them think these dots wouldn’t be connected?

And thank goodness that we have DailyKos to connect the dots, to remember the stuff that was in the media a year or two ago, to fire up the search engines and to have accumulated hundreds of thousands of daily readers -- critical mass.

So after we do our demos tomorrow against the veto of SCHIP, let us plan how to get Blackwater off our public payroll. It would pay for SCHIP.

  • This link to the Salon story on Schmitz and other Blackwater figures. Note that Cofer Black, infamous for pre-war CIA incompetence, is among them. And there's our old pal Ken Starr, too.
  • The jail escape saga.
  • SCHIP veto is all over the news. Please note that the president and a lot of Republicans in Congress are going against the opinion of 72 percent of the voting public.

State blogs are flourishing

Thanks to the Florida Netroots for pointing out the great diary on DailyKos summarizing the growing state blogs around the USA. This is highly recommended reading for those like me who didn’t have a clue about blogs a year ago. And now I are one. You can be, too.

Texas is one of the examples. We all think Texas is such a red state that it's impossible. But in fact, Democrats only need to take a half-dozen seats to take control of the state House. Blogs may make it happen.

And have you considered joining the Florida Netroots? What is/are netroots, you ask? It’s the grassroots on the internet, and if you’re using email to assist your political activities and doing research online, you’re already part of the netroots. So why not see what its most avid practitioners are talking about? Oh, no, you say, I don’t want to get any more email. This may only mean two or three a day. Go ahead, sign up. You can always unsubscribe if you must. Here’s where you do it.

Act for the Everglades

We're running around demonstrating for everything. What about this cause -- our unique and essential Everglades? President Bush is threatening a veto. This Miami Herald article leads me to think we should be pressuring our members of Congress to vote to override.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Food for thought in the Obits

The name was familiar: Harry Dent. The rest of the headline on the obituary turned the screw of why we still despise Richard Nixon: “an architect of Nixon Southern Strategy.” Still hurts, doesn’t it? Our beloved country could have blossomed into a more friendly and fair place after the turmoil of the Civil Rights era, but instead a mean-spirited president fueled racism for political gain. And this guy Harry Dent, who passed away in Columbia, SC, on Friday at age 77, was an architect of it.

Let’s read into it. Strom Thurmond surfaces as a Democrat-turned Republican via Dixiecratism, and Harry Dent was on his staff. Nixon narrowly beat Hubert Humphrey in 1968, partly thanks to Dent’s “having helped articulate the Southern strategy,” in the words of the New York Times obit. Dent was rewarded with the post of special counsel in the White House.

Dent didn’t fare too well after Watergate; he was found guilty of a little illegal fund-raising but only got a month of probation. Good enough to advise Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush and be chair of the South Carolina Republican Party.

A sign of conscience surfaces at the very end of the obit, reporting what he told the Washington Post in a 1981 interview: “When I look back, my biggest regret now is anything I did that stood in the way of the rights of black people,” he said, “Or any people.”

It’s refreshing, every so slightly, that the prospect of the Pearly Gates may make even nasty Republicans regret their sins.

Now turn to the Op-Ed Page

Here the reader doesn’t have to be quite so old to remember the subject: Anita Hill writes an essay in response to the blast of publicity from Clarence Thomas, who became Supreme Court associate justice in 1991 even though Ms. Hill made pretty clear he had behaved very badly to her. In his memoir now on the market, Thomas is doing it again, she writes.

I’ve heard a lot about this in the past few days. On Monday NPR had a long segment on this and other Supreme Court issues, in which commentators on the Diane Rheem show expressed puzzlement at why Thomas is still so mad at Ms. Hill. The next day Rush Limbaugh fawned over Thomas for 90 minutes with nary a tough question. Somewhere in all that I heard – was it Thomas himself who said it? – that fellow Justice Antonin Scalia had said he himself was pretty conservative but he wasn’t “nuts” like Thomas. Ha ha.

Let’s remind ourselves that it’s George H. W. Bush we have to thank for nominating Thomas, and let’s wonder if the counsel of Harry Dent (see above) had anything to do with it.

Final word goes to Ms. Hill, who says people who are treated badly in the workplace have better protections today than when she tried to blow the whistle on Thomas and found her own character ripped apart for no good reason. “But that could change. Our legal system will suffer if a sitting justice’s vitriolic pursuit of personal vindication discourages others from standing up for their rights.”

Bravery will be required for whistle-blowers, as ever in this land of the free and the home of the brave.

The links: to Harry Dent obit, to Anita Hill's op-ed piece.