Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We help take up slack on John McCain

A think piece in Tuesday’s NY Times helped me understand the flurry of activity we’ve had in the last few days chasing John McCain in Miami and Tampa: We’re part of a smart strategy. Hey, I like it. Better than sitting around waiting for something to happen in two or three months when our nominee finally emerges.

The headline told the story: “Its candidates otherwise engaged, Democratic Party goes after McCain.”

Down in the detail you’ll learn that while Clinton and Obama have lots of money to spend on campaign ads, the Democratic Party is running close to empty – but spending that anyway on ads highlighting McCain’s vulnerability.

A quote from Howard Dean:

Speaking with reporters on Monday, the Democratic National Committee chairman, Howard Dean, expressed urgency when he described deciding to run a party-sponsored advertisement against Mr. McCain. “I said look, it is time for us to get this done,” he said.

This explains why the DNC is asking for donations. Time to give a few bucks.

UPDATE: And here's a link to a view of the ad -- and a convenient place to donate.

So while the national Democratic Party is buying ad time, the Florida Democratic Party has leaped into action with a campaign to birddog McCain in the Sunshine state. I was part of a gang of about 20 Democratic activists who attracted a line of TV cameras Sunday afternoon outside the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, where McCain was with donors.

And we weren’t just standing there: we had signs and a 10-foot-tall mockup of “Economics for Dummies” – a great visual – to taunt McCain for admitting that economics is not his strong suit. (Not to mention geography, since he confuses Iran and Iraq.)

Congratulations to county party Chair Bret Berlin and Alejandro Miyar of the Florida Demcocratic Party for orchestrating this strong demo. Miyar was dashing off to Tampa for today’s McCain appearance on the topic of health care.

Meanwhile, those who turned on the Miami TV news Sunday evening saw reports about McCain that included decent coverage of our anti-McCain demos. Here’s a link to one on Channel 10.

And here's one on CBS4, with a fine quote from Shirley Alexiou, a super activist and vice president of the Democrats of South Dade Club:

"I don't want a president that doesn't know much about the economy."

I hope they're doing as well today over in Tampa, where in fact I know there are a lot of smart and active Democrats.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Diaz-Balart brothers get laughs on their energy bill

Did you see it? Lincoln Diaz-Balart on Channel 7 at 10 p.m. saying “Speaker Pelosi promised to lower the price of gasoline. Since she’s been speaker, the price has gone up $1 a gallon.”

What a gas! I guess the Republican incumbent of Florida’s District 21 thinks that the Speaker of the House is in charge of gas prices. Delusional. As if anyone could hear him saying such tripe and not fall down laughing.

Raul Martinez should have this guy for lunch. All they have to do is record Lincoln D-B on the news and run it as an ad for Raul Martinez.

On the Joe Garcia side, they are reacting sharply to the joint appearance by the three Republicans Monday. Here’s the intro of a statement issued pointing out how Mario Diaz-Balart is a late convert to the energy cause:

Mario Diaz-Balart is six years late in addressing rising fuel costs. While Florida’s families watched oil prices rise, Rep. Diaz-Balart consistently voted against cracking down on price gouging and opposed bipartisan legislation to make our country less dependent on foreign oil.

Go to that statement and read down into the fine print where we learn of the big donations from Big Oil to the Diaz-Balart brothers: $24,000. It led to the brothers having a ZERO voting record on the good side of energy conservation.

This statement is a good resource for anyone looking into where the Diaz-Balarts come from -- and why their congressional careers must be brought to a stop.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

FL-18: Annette Taddeo on DailyKos

Annette Taddeo, challenger for Congressional District 18, was on DailyKos today introducing herself. Check it out. She gets my vote, for sure.

Ashcroft vs. student; student wins

This is from DailyKos yesterday, so kinda late, but that makes it also interesting because it has accumulated almost 700 comments on John Ashcroft's speech at Knox College. That's cooking!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One of the most corrupt: Tom Feeney, FL-24

This morning news came in the Miami Herald reporting that another of Jack Abramoff's political contacts was pleading guilty to corruption. Good, I thought. This is part of the untold rot that came into highest office with George W. Bush, and it's late but here's another one heading for the slammer. That the future jailbird has been an official in the U.S. Department of Justice is also in the category of untold rot.

Then came an email from the Florida Democratic Party reminding me of another example of rot, U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, FL-24. The party is taking out some online ads to remind people of his problem. Click here to look at the ad.

Look at it and think of Abramoff and all he's responsible for -- but not paying for. Like how many degrees of separation are between him and the gangland murder of Gus Boulis? That murder is still awaiting full treatment in the courts. It will take a brave judge and brave jury. Check out Wikipedia on Gus Boulis. This isn't mentioned in today's Herald story, which says Abramoff is doing time on "separate charges." Well, he's in prison for defrauding the late Gus Boulis, who just happened to get murdered seven years ago in Fort Lauderdale after complaining about the fraud. That's how many degrees of separation are between Abramoff and Boulis.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Picture your block under water

Earth Day 2008. I’m heading out this evening to hear the Army Corps of Engineers’ inadequate plans for dealing with the Everglades. Previewed Monday on the Miami Herald’s op-ed page, the plan will say there’s not enough money to do the right thing. Funny. There’s trillions to do the wrong thing. Paltry pocket change for the Everglades.

The link to the Earth Day horror story includes an aerial photo – graphically altered – showing South Beach at high tide in the future, perhaps two generations down the line, when sea levels have risen enough so that high water creeps up from Biscayne Bay and runs seven or eight blocks through the street. We’ll have Washington and Collins Avenues left to party on.

Are you ready for that? Why aren’t we doing anything about it? Surprise, it’s that old problem: poor representation in Congress. They don’t know and don’t care to know. Minds elsewhere. And forget about the local political leaders. They know the problem but don’t care. Their billions are for stadiums and tunnels for white elephants.

A few weeks ago I saw this photo representation at a meeting organized by the Sierra Club to learn about the Everglades. Pretty shocking, but there is some little bit of hope. It requires, however, that we actually do something about restoring natural water flow in the Everglades. This is a little tricky to understand, so I’ll try to do it in bullets:

  • · The canals and highways that have destroyed the natural water flow in the Everglades also led to less sediment being deposited downstream. Think of how the Mississippi River has been confined within levees that control flooding and the result has been the retreat of the land in the delta. Same thing is happening in the Everglades: less sediment replenishing that which washes away, ergo less land.
  • · If we open some of the canal banks and put the Tamiami Trail up on an elevated roadway, more-natural water flow would gradually help build up the mangroves on the edges of Florida Bay, thus raising the level of the land. This could help fend off the effect of sea-level rise and also stop the intrusion of salt water into the aquifer that supplies our fresh water.
  • · Is this worth a billion? Saving not only the Everglades but also inhabited South Florida? I’d say so. Our leaders in Congress think all they’ve got is a couple hundred million, so we’ll get far less than enough to deal with the problem. On the other hand, they’re trying not to do something that would interfere with doing the right thing later on.
Earth Day 2008. Be thankful for small favors.

FL-25: Garcia campaign hits one-note incumbents

Check out this video that recently surfaced on YouTube:

UPDATE: This is also up on Naked Politics now, and you're welcome to run over there and post a comment.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Condi must go" petition -- a good idea

An email rolled in from Democracy for America and hit my Sign-Petition button right on center. Signing helped me recover from the helpless feeling that followed the ABC debate the other night.

Have a look yourself:

Sometimes I try to understand why public events can have such an impact on my happiness. Hey, things are pretty good for me, why do I get down when someone in government screws up bigtime. Thank goodness for great literature, in which the lines often have nuggets of wisdom. Today I started rereading Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," and there in the early pages Marlow tells his companions why he was struck by unease as he was introduced to his new environment.

"You know, I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie ... There is a taint of death, a flavor of mortality in lies ... It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do."

This is what we're getting from the loyal Bushies, and they wonder why we're bitter.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Calling all Veterans

Miami-Dade Democrats have a new sub-organization, the veterans committee. It had its organizational meeting a few weeks ago, and last night a core group met again to discuss next steps. The chair is Lettie J. Bien, a retired Army Reserve colonel and Iraq War veteran, and she’d like to hear from you, especially if you’re a veteran and member of the Democratic Executive Committee. Those who aren’t veterans but want to be active in veterans’ affairs are also welcome to join the committee. Send your contact info to her at ljbesq-at-aol.com.

We are meeting on second Mondays. Notice I said we there. I’m a veteran, too – 40 years ago I was a recently mustered-out veteran of a year in Vietnam as a rifle platoon leader’s radio operator.

Committee mission: to represent the Democratic Party to veterans, and to represent veterans to the Democratic Party.

While thinking veterans: In Tuesday’s Miami Herald the op-ed page has a reminder that Sen. McWar – I mean John McCain – hasn’t had time to decide whether to support the bipartisan new GI Bill. Authors Wesley K. Clark and Jon Solz of VoteVets.org point out that McCain, for all the power he gets from his military service, is far from a leader in taking care of veterans.

I’m guessing that he has drunk the White House Kool-Aid, which is summarized in this op-ed as follows:

The White House has voiced concern about the bill, arguing that if returning troops are offered a good education, they will choose college over extending their service. This is as offensive as it is absurd.

Well said.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Joe Garcia vs one-note incumbent

The one-note politician toots it again: Run against him/them, and you’re a “left-wing extremist.”

It’s in the Miami Herald Wednesday in all its silliness, but at least Joe Garcia got his smiling face pictured on the front of the Metro section.

If we wonder why South Florida is not exactly flourishing under its present dominant political structure, we need only recall that our Republican members of Congress are laughable. In this instance, Mario Diaz-Balart, the incumbent in District 25, has his campaign declare that Joe Garcia “continues to align himself with left-wing extremists. The latest to join the ranks is Congressman Charlie Rangel.”

Oh? Charlie Rangel, decorated war veteran, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, is a left-wing extremist? No wonder we can expect to see the Everglades – the environmental jewel of this congressional district – dry up and blow away if Diaz-Balart remains in office. Why would Chairman Rangel want to arrange any special ways and means for this district with such insults ringing in his ears?

Or perhaps Diaz-Balart thinks no one is listening. Maybe …

Since he’s paying so much attention to who’s attending fund-raisers for Joe Garcia, we should do him the same favor.

While we’re thinking Congressional here: The Herald has one more interesting piece in Wednesday’s Metro section, back inside, under the headline “Democrats bid for state seats,” is a Washington story rounding up all the Democratic ambitions to take back Florida congressional seats. Good going, Herald! I wrote this up three weeks ago when it was announced that Joe Trippi was signing up to be senior media adviser for Joe Garcia’s campaign.

The Herald’s counting doesn’t extend as far as mine, though. Their story says the Democrats “are eyeing as many as six House seats in Florida,” while in fact the DCCC – Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – is eyeing eight House seats, or half of the 16 now held by the Republicans.

This, I like to say, is landslide country. And this is a landslide year. Any Democrat who’s not thinking landslide this year is out to lunch. Skeptical? May I remind you that last weekend the NY Times/CBS New poll said 81 percent think the country is on the wrong track. Yes, 81 percent is where we go to watch landslides occur. This is the Switzerland of political landslides, avalanches, sweeping victories, changes of eras.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Call this censorship: no searching for abortion

From Wired via discourse.net, the always engaging blog run by UM law prof. Michael Froomkin, we learn that loyal Bushies are trying to eliminate the very word abortion. Not content with regulating it wherever possible, they made it not searchable in exactly the place where it should be.