Thursday, May 29, 2008

Club News: Introducing Liberty City Democrats

A first communication from the a-forming Liberty City Democratic Club says they are rising into action.

Soon to host a fundraiser at La Paloma Restaurant and Lounge located at 10999 Biscayne Blvd. in North Miami. Tickets are being sold for $75, including valet parking, four course meal and one free drink. This event will take place June 21 at 5:00 pm. The money raised from this event and future fundraising events will go towards hosting events, voters registration drive, community education efforts, club education (i.e.: seminars, workshops and trainings).

We will have speakers from the community and political arena and offer you an opportunity to help form a plan of action to help to improve the quality of life for our community residents.

Purchase a table and offer this opportunity to your clients, staff and/or constituents. For more information call Lottie Hines (786) 355-0348.

Lottie Hines is the club’s president.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One more day to register new citizens to vote in Miami Beach

Mario Semiglia and Christian Martinez show their loyalty to the Democratic candidate for Congress in District 18.

Wednesday was hot and busy, and our congressional campaigns took most of the lead in supplying people to help new citizens register to vote after naturalization ceremonies in Miami Beach.

The Raul Martinez campaign (District 21) did most of the administrative backup, and Joe Garcia (District 25) was in action early Wednesday. Annette Taddeo (District 18) plans to be there early Thursday for the second day registering new citizens to vote. More volunteers will be welcome. If you're free, show up Thursday morning, stay through 2 p.m. and you will have one of your best experiences in political spadework -- signing up happy new citizens to become voters.

And you'll be competing against a tentful of Republicans right next door. As the Marlins say: Be there! With any luck you can see a slide show of Wednesday's action next to this post.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Link to Obama speech to CANF

Click on this link to watch Barack Obama's speech to the Cuban American National Foundation in Miami on Friday. I ran a camera, too, but the audio quality was rotten.

Thanks to Giancarlo Sopo for posting the link.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Texting with Obama on the campaign trail

The small figures on the stage are Rep. Robert Wexler and Commissioner Stacy Ritter.

The parking lot at the Bank Atlantic arena in Sunrise was full to the brim when I arrived – late, having also heard Barack Obama’s earlier foreign policy speech in downtown Miami. Other late arrivals were still streaming in. The lobbies were busy with concessions but missing something, I thought: lots of desks where people could sign up to volunteer for and donate to the Obama campaign.

Inside, the seats were full almost to the rafters and a thousand or so standing people milled around the stage. It’s a great crowd, but a missed opportunity to sign up 10,000 people, I thought.

Sorry, Larry. That was the old way of doing a campaign. Here’s how they did it instead, no paper to get lost, no rustling up scores of tables and banners and a vast staff to collect the names and enter them in a database.

Before the presumptive nominee arrived, U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler and Broward Commissioner Stacy Ritter warmed up the crowd, and Ritter, the chair of Obama’s campaign in Broward, got many in the crowd to volunteer without effort – the Web 2.0 way, the SMS way, via text messages.

“Everybody has a cell phone, right?” she cried.

“This is Florida, Broward, everybody has a cell phone, right?” she repeated. “Get it out. Text FL to 622-62.”

That’s how you volunteered: text FL to 622-62. Takes 20 seconds. I saw tons of people do it in the upper balcony where I sat, and they did it happily. A woman in front of me wasn’t yet a texter, so she had her husband do it on her mobile. And she laughed and enjoyed her enrollment in Obama’s volunteer corps.

That, to me, was the news of the event – something new. The speech was great, so was the one earlier to the Cuban American National Foundation in downtown Miami, but I had heard the ideas before. This smooth use of technology in front of 16,000 people (est. by the Sun-Sentinel) was confirmation of what we’re reading about the Obama campaign.

This has been in The Nation and also, more recently, in The Atlantic. We might have been more familiar with this if there had been a lot of campaigning in Florida, but no, we’re getting it late in the game. And it’s impressive.

Let me refer you to a summary in The Atlantic, June issue, where the author opines that Obama’s use of technology puts him in a league with other presidents who became powerful through new communications media. The examples were Andrew Jackson (improved printing presses and the use of the postal service), Abraham Lincoln (vigorous growth of newspapers), Franklin Roosevelt (radio chats), John Kennedy (television).

Now we’re in the Web age, and if we hadn’t had a Republican dolt for president for eight years (It’s on the internets, he ventured) we might be like some countries with a lot of public WiFI, or like Britain, with a Web address to petition the government.

“If Obama wins,” the article concludes, “and if he can harness the Web as a unifying force once the voting is done, he could be a powerful president indeed – the kind that might even deliver on some of the audacious promises that Obama the candidate has made.” It goes on to say that the Web could stall him, too, but I prefer to dwell on the delivering of audacious promises. Of which I heard plenty Friday in two speeches.

And by the way, Text FL to 622-62. And don’t forget to volunteer for your local Democratic Party, too.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Watch out for more of this: Republicans twist reality

And don't expect to see it only from Republican Party mouthpieces. It will also filter into the news media, and soon there will be a story on every political reporter's agenda: Democrats losing support among ... (fill in the blank with any constituency) African-Americans, Jews, Hispanics, working people.

This week it's the Jewish community's turn to have its voting preferences twisted. What I like about this is the speed at which the Florida Democratic Party reacted -- right away.

Here's a statement issued Thursday from the state party in Tallahassee:

"On an extremely brief attack conference call today, House Republican Majority Leader Adam Hasner falsely claimed that Jewish support for Republicans in Florida is increasing when, in fact, it is declining.

"Hasner started by correctly noting that President George W. Bush received about a quarter of the Jewish vote in 2004 (24% according to CNN exit polls, which also showed Republican Mel Martinez receiving 22% of the Jewish vote that year).

"Then Hasner veered away from the facts, calling Jews a "swing" constituency and falsely claiming that Republican support among Jews has been on the rise since 2004.

"In fact, the opposite is true. Jewish support for Republicans is on the decline.

"In 2006, despite winning the race, then-gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist - a Republican - garnered only 18% of the Jewish vote. At the top of the GOP ticket, U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris managed to pull only 14% in her crushing defeat."

For those who don't think the Florida Democratic Party is worth a hill of beans, consider what a nimble press department is worth in this election year. A lot.

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long. Front page of today's NY Times, the headline: "As Obama heads to Florida, Jews there have their doubts." The newspaper that helped give us the war in Iraq now finds a bunch of elderly anti-black Jews and lets the rumor mill roll. There will be some work necessary to get these folks into voting shape. Good quote from Rabbi Ruvi New in Boca: "The fate of the world for the next four years ... It's all going to boil down to a few old Jews in Century Village."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Debate? Republicans run and hide.

Republican members of Congress in South Florida don’t look like debaters. The reference is to the Diaz-Balarts and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- track stars when it comes to running and hiding.

Joe Garcia, challenging Mario Diaz-Balart for District 25, said in a statement Wednesday that his opponent had backed out of a commitment to debate.

This is an act of political cowardice. If Mario Diaz-Balart had time to vote to underfund our schools, three times against children’s healthcare and against medical benefits for veterans, then he better make time to explain himself to the people of South Florida,” the statement said.

Cowardice? Goodness, tough word. But that’s exactly what Raul Martinez said Tuesday evening at a meeting of the Democrats of South Dade Club. Martinez said his opponent in District 21, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, had accepted a labor union debate invitation but then changed the date and now seems unavailable. “Why is he hiding?” Martinez asked. Later he returned to the topic and said if there is no debate, “I’m going to call him a coward. Mr. Coward. Coward, coward.”

The crowd was delighted. Just think, there are still over five months of this before election day.

Annette Taddeo’s campaign was more polite, according to the Miami Herald, which quoted the candidate’s campaign manager, Anastasia Apa, saying she hopes for a change of heart.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Between Fogeyland and Dementia

Here comes a link to a thought-provoking review in the Sunday NY Times. In which a safer future may result from less civic engagement -- not more. In other words, what we're doing, in being politically active, may not be good in the long run.

Well, if nothing else, you can enjoy the whimsical map of the United States, which shows us South Floridians living on the border between Fogeyland and Dementia. I'm not going to post it here, for copyright reasons, I think, but you can see it at the link above.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thank you for voting Republican

Ah, the joys of voting in Florida. Sometimes it counts, sometimes not. Sometimes Pat Buchanan wins, sometimes the Supreme Court.

In this video:

Broward County Dems take a shot at the process. Enjoy. And then if you can spare a buck, head on over to and donate.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

From the Crawford ranch to the threshold of federal prison?

The headline above refers not to the president but to one of his guests: Zachariah Zachariah. Wednesday’s Miami Herald has the excellent revelation that “insider trading figure has ties to Bush family.” Thanks, Beth Reinhard, for laying this one out for us.

It’s fitting that this is about insider trading. The currently ruling crowd thinks the law doesn’t apply to them, and they can make up the rules as they wish. Whether it’s war by deceit or signing statements that change the will of Congress, it’s OK for the White House. And don’t worry about making stock market profits on information not available to the public. We don’t care if it’s not fair or legal or moral – just do it.

I’m going to shift gears here and post a link to an article in The Atlantic June issue, just hot from my mailbox, that revealed a lot to me about how Barack Obama has been able to raise a quarter of a billion dollars. Not from so many big donors, according to this long piece in the magazine, but from a ton of smaller donors. Well, we knew that, but … the detail, the detail – how?

There’s also an article with some predictions of how the Obama administration will use the internet in new ways.

Obama clearly intends to use the Web, if he is elected president, to transform governance just as he has transformed campaigning. Notably, he has spoken of conducting “online fireside chats” as president. And when one imagines how Obama’s political army, presumably intact, might be mobilized to lobby for major legislation with just a few keystrokes, it becomes possible, for a moment at least, to imagine that he might change the political culture of Washington simply by overwhelming it.

Now there’s an interesting thought: to overwhelm the political culture of Washington. And this form of money raising through many smaller donors leaves Obama less vulnerable to accusations of influence by big donors. Anyone remember the selling of the Lincoln Bedroom? Too cringe-making.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Attack Mode: Joe Garcia v. Diaz-Balart double standard

There’s a power of research going on over at the Joe Garcia campaign against Mario Diaz-Balart in FL-25. Who’s doing business with Cuba and giving money to the Diaz-Balarts, who revile and decry doing business with Cuba? Turns out there are such animals, and they have given a power of money to the congressional brothers: $80,000.

Here’s a YouTube ad that the Joe Garcia campaign is putting out, along with a statement reminding voters that Joe supports sanctions on Cuba but opposes the 2004 restrictions on family aid and travel. As do Raul Martinez, challenging Lincoln Diaz-Balart in FL-21, and Annette Taddeo, challenging Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in District 18.

This has been in El Nuevo Herald and on Spanish-language television. Anyone seen it in English media?

The language aspect of this reminds me of the recent story in the Miami Herald about how Raul Martinez has rounded on Radio Mambi for letting callers rave on with unsubstantiated allegations. Martinez mentioned this last week in an appearance at Democracy for America Miami-Dade and made it clear he's not going to let any slight get by without a comment or a fight.

I like to see this, and I like that it's possible to break into local media with our combative positions. It has been clear for months now that -- unlike in past years when Democratic challengers to the Republican incumbents in Congress were ignored -- that today's strong candidates should offer fights wherever appropriate, and the media will lap it up.

But I don't like the fact that a lot of this is taking place only in Spanish media. Where are all the bilingual reporters of the Miami Herald and broadcast media whose job should be to tell us non-Spanish speakers what's going on across the language divide?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Time to get to work -- the campaigns are coming

The Obama Florida staff, L-R: Michael Raphael, intern; Georgette Brammer, Florida finance assistant; Corey Ciorciari, intern.

For those who worry that Florida became irrelevant due to the fiasco over the advanced primary date, I never was convinced. I'll still bet that our convention delegates will be seated without a big fight. And the turnout for the January primary was immense -- very heartening! And it had impact: John Edwards dropped out. Rudy Giuliani dropped out. That's a lot of relevance, in my book. But OK, maybe you had something there. It diminished our relevance. I concede.

But now we're about to come back into full bloom. Did you see the lead story in the NY Times on Sunday? Obama and McCain are charting strategy for the fall campaign, and Florida is one of the chief battlegrounds.

A quote from Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe:

"Organizationally, we have now built very powerful organizations in every state but Michigan and Florida. ... That is one huge silver lining to how long this nomination fight has gone on."

Yes, that's great for the rest of the country, and for us in Florida, we have the opportunity now to build our own "very powerful organization" for the campaign to take up and run with.

Case in point: On Saturday I went out rather late but still in time for the voter-registration training that was said to be a joint effort by the Clinton and Obama campaigns. There I saw a lot of Obama people, and took this photo of what was said to be the entire Obama staff in Florida: three friendly young people who have opened an office on Miami Beach and are working hard.

You heard it here first.

Mother’s Day: thoughts on SCHIP from Annette Taddeo

Annette Taddeo with Sophie, 2

On Mother’s Day, what better than to talk about a mother’s love for her children. And here is a mother with tender thoughts about her 2-year-old daughter, and about her own mother, and how it translates into a run for Congress against steep odds.

This is about Annette Taddeo, who is running against an 18-year Republican incumbent in Florida’s 18th District, which includes a big chunk of Miami and Miami Beach and down to the end of the Florida Keys. I live in the district and, since her campaign launch in February, have seen her talk several times about what drove her into this race. Her talk has gotten better and better, and more personal each time.

She may be referring to the scars left from being born with a cleft lip, but this listener is becoming an admirer of the steel in her character.

In a meeting Saturday with four South Florida bloggers, she did not hesitate to answer when asked if it had been difficult to start talking about her birth defect. “Not easy,” she said, and in fact she hadn’t talked about it in public before this campaign. She and her husband, Eric Goldstein, a sports psychologist and motivational speaker, had discussed it at length, she said, on how to use it to buttress her case against Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s repeated votes against expanding children’s health insurance.

Now this aspect of Taddeo’s life is laid out in her stump talks and on her web site (click on "About Annette"), as part of her world view that good childhood health care is essential. “I don’t like it that they are playing politics with kids’ lives,” she told us bloggers.

A few days earlier, at an open house to launch her headquarters, she told supporters that she opposed the Iraq war and Ros-Lehtinen had always backed it, but that hadn’t made up her mind to enter the race. “But her votes over and over and over against expanding children’s health care – that for me was the ultimate straw that broke the camel’s back. And as I look at my daughter, I am so glad to have a healthy daughter. And my mother, I want to thank her because she took care of me from the time I was born. I was born with a cleft lip, and now that I see babies that are born that way, I just can’t imagine, as the loving mother that I am, what it’s like to have an ill child and how you’d do anything for them. .. In the richest country in the world there are parents who have to choose between taking their children to the doctor or paying the rent … That’s unacceptable in a country where we spend 250 million dollars a day for the war in Iraq but we refuse to spend for healthy children. So when my opponent voted against children, that was what made my ultimate decision that this was the right thing to do, the right time to do it.”

She is raising money at a good rate and putting her own wealth into the campaign – “It goes to show that I am invested,” she told the bloggers. This cost her $180,000 in the first quarter, giving her a total of $321,000 raised, well past Ros-Lehtinen’s $115,000, though the incumbent has a fat treasury of $1.7 million.

For Taddeo, this translates into a vigorous and experienced professional staff, and she believes the district is ripe for a change, even though conventional wisdom puts it in safe Republican territory. Polling is “amazingly good,” she said, and “over 70 percent of the district was ready to vote for an unnamed Democrat – I was shocked.”

Ros-Lehtinen was the first Cuban-American woman elected to the House and she serves with the equally Cuban brothers, Lincoln Diaz-Balart of District 21 and Mario Diaz-Balart of District 25, as a sort of unitary trio of right-wing stalwarts. Interestingly, the three broke with the Republicans in Congress last week and voted with the Democrats on the homeowner rescue bill. It passed 266 to 154, though President Bush has threatened a veto, and it may not do so well in the Senate. Florida has one of the worst foreclosure situations in the country, and the state’s congressional delegation has been under pressure to take action. As recently as the end of March Lincoln Diaz-Balart was on record as uncertain what to do. Now all three Miami Republicans voted on the Democratic side, though that may be only a tactical shift since the Bush veto could decide the issue the other way. Seven of Florida’s 16 Republicans in the House voted with the Democrats.

Taddeo comes from a strong business background in making her first run for office. She founded a language services company that has prospered and she has held leadership positions in the Chamber of Commerce. She believes this will fend off any accusations that she’s a tax-and-spend liberal.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

DFAM's new website

Democracy for America Miami-Dade has a new website, linked here. Enjoy!

One more reason to oppose McCain

He's against equal pay for equal work. Here's a link to today's NY Times editorial on this topic, which you may recall from a decision by the activist judges on the loyal Bushie Supreme Court that made it impossible to contest unfair pay. So McCain is for activist judges as well as against equal pay. Makes you wonder what he spent all that time in captivity for.