Monday, June 30, 2008

Obama field boss for Miami-Dade: Haile Rivera

I'll bet this young man burns the midnight oil. The first email from him is timed in my inbox at 1:30 a.m., announcing to Miami-Dade party workers that he's the field organizer for the county.

Welcome, Haile Rivera! Yes, we can!

Who is he? I Googled him and here's a YouTube video introducing him a year ago when he was a Bronx community organizer who had won a dinner invitation with Barack Obama.

He said in his email that he's now in meetings in Tampa, and will be here about the end of the week.

A priority need: Housing for staff, office space. Anyone?

UPDATE: This link takes you to a blog post where he talks about running for New York City Council in 2009.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Obama campaign in Florida gets going

We have a poster, a bumper sticker, a T-shirt design, a coffee cup. And a work of political art. By David Schor. Its title is "The Fabric of America."

I bought a coffee mug and had a cuppa this morning from it. Delicious. Colorful. Beautiful. A better mug of coffee. And your Miami-Dade Democratic Party will benefit from sales!

If you look closely at the faces in the painting by David Schor, artist resident in Miami, you should see some of your political friends, Joe Garcia, John Hornbuckle ...

Go to Miami-Dade Democrats or to David Schor's website and decide yourself what to order to brighten your life and contribute.

That introduced the Art section of the Obama campaign.

Next is the Florida campaign director, Steve Schale. Click on this link for a long Internet radio interview with the new head of the Barack Obama campaign in Florida.

You may have to log in or open an account – worth doing! Florida Progressive Radio is one of the new things you should become familiar with in this campaign year.

Thanks to Kenneth Quinnell and Alison Berke Morano for doing this Internet radio interview with Steve Schale, who knows Florida well and is about to blanket the state with Obama staff and volunteers. If you want to know what’s up and how to help it get rolling, listen and learn.

One idea to put in the bank: If Obama wins Florida, he’s president.

The co-hosts of this show are:

  • Kenny Quinnell leads the Florida Progressive Coalition, teaches political science in Tallahassee and does a zillion other things to move Democratic politics along in Florida.
  • Alison Berke Morano is chair of the Democratic Executive Committee in Pasco County in the Tampa Bay area and was installed in the Florida Progressive Hall of Fame at the recent Jefferson-Jackson Day event held in South Florida.
UPDATE: The Miami Herald on Monday also has a long feature on Steve Schale, p. 1. This concluded the two-parter on the Florida heads of the two campaigns. On Sunday the McCain boss, Arlene DiBenigno, was featured. She's a protege of -- who else? -- Jeb Bush. This is another reason for me to want Obama to win Florida BigTime.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Black voter turnout key to winning Florida

Can Barack Obama win the off-and-on red state of Florida? To paraphrase the candidate, "yes he can." But he'll need record black voter turnout (even higher than the high water marks of 1996 and 2000) to get it done. This year, he may get it (hat tip to Marlon Hill). First, some history:
About 12 percent of the Florida electorate is black, but black turnout is inconsistent. In 2000, when Al Gore barely lost the state and the White House, black voters accounted for 15 percent of the overall vote. In 2004, when John Kerry lost Florida by 5 percentage points, that number was 12 percent.

Despite a massive mobilization effort by political groups working independently of the Kerry-Edwards campaign but in hopes of helping the ticket, black turnout in Florida was just 61 percent. Overall turnout was 74 percent.
I remember it well -- I was working for one of those groups... and now the bottom line:
Florida is just starting to get to know Obama, as he and Hillary Rodham Clinton avoided campaigning in the state's unsanctioned Jan. 29 primary. But in the 16 contested Democratic primaries with significant black populations, the black turnout jumped 115 percent. Overwhelmingly, those votes went to Obama.

"I have no doubt he will significantly increase black turnout across the country. It was 60 percent in 2004, and I would expect it to be 72 percent this year," said David Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic studies, one of the country's foremost experts on black voting trends.

"In most cases, that's not necessarily enough for him to carry a state, but Florida is one of those places that a big black turnout certainly has the potential to put him over the top," said Bositis, putting Virginia and North Carolina in the same category.

That alone can't deliver Florida, but if Obama continues to run strong or competitively among Hispanic and independent voters, black turnout could give him a pivotal edge.
Meanwhile, Obama could also be helped, inadvertently, by eager McCain suitor Charlie Crist, who made good on a campaign promise to ease the transition of former felons to full membership in civic society, including restoring the right to vote (or at least making the process a little simpler.) That change alone could in theory put nearly 950,000 ex-felons (and people mistaken for felons by Kathy Harris' Dickensian system,) back on the rolls, or 9 percent of the state's voting age population (Florida has more disenfranchised felons than any other state, and surprise, surprise, a disproportionate number of them are African-American, Latino or lower income white. And though these are voters who haven't been able to participate, most researchers believe that the disenfranchised would overwhelmingly vote Democrat.) If the Obama campaign and other groups can get to these voters -- even half of them would erase George W. Bush's 380,000 vote margin over John Kerry in 2004.

Sidebar: I can attest anecdotally that at nearly every event we did in the black community at my prior radio station, we had people coming up to us or calling in to ask how they could get their rights restored. From the jobs standpoint, as well as from a voter participation standpoint, this is a very big deal...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

FL-18: Annette Taddeo is priceless

Copy editing job outsourced to India

That was a line to send shivers down the back of anyone in the news business these days. Job outsourced to India. It’s in the Sunday Miami Herald, in which Brayden Simms has the byline on an article in the business section about who’s getting the ax as the paper cuts 250 jobs. Himself, for one.

And in the opinion section, the Herald’s ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos, has much more detail on which jobs are going away. This is required reading for us Herald readers. The ombudsman also invites people to say what they want the paper to do in the future. As a former reporter, I suggest let the reporters rule.

What the Herald didn't tell us: Crist bombs in California

Audible groans. Geography bad. Treacly story. Heck of a speech out there in California, Charlie!

Read an opinion piece about it here in the Orange County Register.

I like the bit where Crist is praised for helping the Republican Party -- by showing he's not suited to be Veep. Well, we knew that.

This came to my notice via and The St. Petersburg Times.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Facebook development

This column in Saturday's Miami Herald is a good exposition of your need to get a Facebook account. If Marco Rubio and Beth Reinhard are on Facebook, what's your excuse?

And once you've signed up, check out the Miami-Dade Democrats on Facebook, and sign up for our Group, and become a fan of our Page. A little search will reveal all.

Liberty City Democrats have Obama's back

Outside the Inter-Continental Hotel where Barack Obama was speaking to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Bravo to Lottie Hines and her Liberty City Democratic Club! Here's one member with a pro-Obama sign in a throng of noisy dinosaurs -- the anti-Obama chanters from the fringe of the Cuban exiles.

The Liberty City Democrats weren't the only ones out on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami to support Obama, though you wouldn't know it if you watched the Channel 7 news at 7 p.m. Saturday. There the camera focused on the anti-Obama message (Fox: Fair and Balanced, in its own way) and at the end of the report, the reporter said some smallish number of pro-Obama people also were present. The way I saw it at about 3 p.m., the numbers were equal, and the pro-Obama side was growing.

Oh, well. Every demo can't be like the latest polls, such as Newsweek with Obama 15 percent ahead nationally. That's what I call a bounce.

This should be the moment to pour out solid coverage of Obama's speech, but alas, my blogger business card didn't get me in to the main event until a few of us lightly credentialed types had lodged a half-dozen appeals from a broiling spot on the sidewalk outside the hotel. Thus I had a good view of the demonstrators for quite a spell before by some miracle we were permitted in, and I found my pre-printed credential in the press office. Some kinda fouled-up coordination let the Miami Police do their wickedest as gatekeepers. Just following orders, with a smile.

So, as the last half of Obama's speech revealed, "Now is not the time for small plans."
  • "Broadband for all." Why the heck is this country No. 15 in the world in access to good internet connection?
  • "World-class transit systems." Why the heck is the fastest train in the world in Shanghai, rather than in the United States. I could say something about that, because that train is a mag-lev (magnetic levitation) design made in Germany, on which I took a test ride while stationed in Berlin in the early '90s. So this is now getting along to being a decades-old idea.
  • There was sustained applause when Obama said his ambitious plans would be paid for at least partly by savings from "bringing this war in Iraq to a responsible close."
There will be more of this before the summer and fall are over. We should come out when we can to stand in the street as our candidate passes. It feels right. Plus, the other side will be there yelling lies. They might stop if shouted down often enough.

FISA analysis

Our colleague Joy Reid has a fine rundown on the FISA vote in the U.S. House over on her blog. It includes this recap of how our local Democrats voted:

While we were on the air, Hastings voted for the bill, which is unfortunate in my opinion. To their credit, Kendrick Meek, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Robert Wexler voted no. Maybe Wexler can convince Obama to reject it when it reaches the Senate.

Thank you, Debbie, Kendrick and Robert for being on the side of the angels!

And what Joy's talking about regarding Obama is his statement that he'll try to get retroactive immunity out of the bill. Let's hope.

In case there's doubt, our Republican incumbents, Ileana Ros Lehtinen and Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, all voted for what Sen Russ Feingold calls a "capitulation" to the Bush administration on warrantless wiretapping.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wings with Joe vs. banquet with Worst President Ever

This would be an easy choice for me: Fast food with Joe Garcia or fundraiser with the Worst President Ever and the guy running against Joe Garcia.

Sign me up, Joe!

Er, I would go if it weren't that Barack Obama will be in town on Saturday and I hope to be listening to his speech to the U.S. Mayors Conference Saturday afternoon. Sorry, Joe!

But everyone else is welcome to lunch with Joe, 2 p.m. Saturday at Sports Grill in Kendall, 104th Street and 147th Avenue. Man, this is out there with the alligators, right?

Take your checkbook or (better yet) donate in advance online so that Joe Garcia will keep up with Mario Diaz-Balart and the Worst President who ever wielded a rubber stamp, George W. Bush.

Click on to get aboard.

This event was previewed on Naked Politics the other day.

UPDATE: Friday afternoon this topic was on the front page of DailyKos, with Markos himself writing an appeal to help Joe. Thank you, Markos!

Jeb is half-right; he recognizes there's a problem. If he had a mirror, he could see it.

Thanks, Larry, for welcoming me to post here at the Miami-Dade-Dems blog. I'm not just your candidate for State Representative in District 119, but I've been building online communities, blogging, and using the net to foster interactivity for the past 10 years. While my posts here won't be directly about our campaign, I look forward to discussing some of the issues that matter most to us Floridians and I suspect my perspective as a Young Democrat born and raised here in Miami-Dade will shine through.

I don't want this to be a place to preach. I want to fully encourage you to interact with the bloggers here. Let us know where you stand. We can learn from each other, and together, implement some of the change we need.

Our kids' education is always among the top concerns of Florida's parents and voters. And though it's taken a backseat lately to more immediately pressing economic issues (this week, the crazy offshore drilling plans), it's an issue that deserves attention.

At this weekend's national education conference in Orlando, former Governor Jeb Bush used the following metaphor to describe our schools:

"The world is much more interconnected, much more technologically advanced, and it is much more interdependent. And yet our education system is an 8-track system living in an iPod world."

I couldn't have said it better myself. But that's as far as Jeb and I agree.

Bush's education gamble hasn't paid off for Florida's students.

Our dropout rates were worse when he left than when he came into office. They're the worst in the country — and that's using some funny math that includes students who don't really graduate.

Our students are being exposed to less learning as they're being taught how to pass the FCAT. Rep. Dan Gelber probably said it best: "Most parents want more than minimal competence for their children." I'd add that most companies want more than minimal competence for their employees as well.

Our per-student spending is shameful. Bush's counterparts at the conference spend far more and their students see the benefits. New York spends more than twice what we do. And yet, the legislature keeps cutting funding, even after promising to "hold education harmless."

I like metaphors. I think they can help make points more clear. So let me stretch this one out a bit.

Our public school system is not the outdated 8-track. No, what's obsolete is the stereotypical politician who thinks he knows better than experts.

Our public school system is the music we all want to hear. The artists performing that music — our teachers — need to be given the freedom to teach as their students need them to.

If we want to be a well-rounded society, we need to listen to different types of music. A wide variety of different subjects have to be important in school.

And if we want that music to sound the best it can, we need to be willing to make the investment in our children's future. For our kids to be competitive, we have to recruit and keep the best talent, we have to upgrade the technology used, and we have to remix our curriculum.

We need a strong system of public education. Let's be honest about the real problem. The real problem is that we've had people in leadership roles who don't want to see it work. We need to rise above ideology and embrace the solution that works. Public schools work, but we have to give them the resources and freedom to prosper.

Look out for constitutional amendments headed to the ballot this year that, if passed, will further damage public schools and make it more difficult for our children to get the education they need. I'm sure we'll have a chance to discuss them soon.

Edit: Wouldn't you know... just hours after I originally posted this, Ray Seaman adds some information on Progress Florida's initiative to fight the amendments on FLA Politics.

First Obama ad coming to Florida

In case you don't catch it elsewhere, here's the Obama ad that's supposed to start running in Florida today.

The Miami Herald previews the ad Friday morning with the oddly phrased first paragraph:

Trespassing on turf that favors Republican John McCain, Barack Obama plans to sweep Friday into Florida and 17 other states with his first television ad of the general-election campaign.

Uh, where's the trespass in this? And didn't the Herald note the Rasmussen poll yesterday that showed Obama favored in Florida, not McCain? Odd.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Good idea: time to give to Joe, Raul, Annette

Here's a link to Progressive America's new Act Blue page for giving to Joe Garcia. It's up on DailyKos. This might not be the last time you're reminded that the end of June is the end of a reporting period for fundraising -- one of those milestones that help gauge how well a campaign is going.

While we're at it, remember Raul Martinez and Annette Taddeo, too.

Do you feel landslide coming on? Yes!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Red to Blue taps Joe Garcia, Raul Martinez

The news is out on Swing State Project: Raul Martinez and Joe Garcia have made the list of candidates-to-back by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Read it here.

Now, what does this mean? They will raise more money to continue waging strong campaigns against the Diaz-Balart brothers, Lincoln in FL-21 and Mario in FL-25, facing Raul Martinez and Joe Garcia, respectively.

And once again it will put the spotlight on U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) and Kendrick Meek (FL-17) as to whether they will get wholeheartedly on the team and campaign for their fellow Democrats. (If you don't know the background on this, pop back to some of the posts starting in March on this blog and read up.)

This Red-to-Blue development was entirely predictable when this all started, so I'm wondering still why the Democratic incumbents were so categorical in their refusals to be on the team.

I also suspect that Garcia and Martinez are doing well partly because Barack Obama is doing better and better in Florida -- the coattail effect already showing up. See this morning that Obama is leading McCain in Florida in a fresh Quinnipiac poll -- and that was probably taken before McCain started talking about drilling for oil spills off Florida's coast.

With strong support from women, blacks and younger voters, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the apparent Democratic presidential contender, leads Arizona Sen. John McCain, expected to be the Republican candidate, among likely voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to simultaneous Quinnipiac University Swing State polls released today.

This is against all received wise opinion a few months ago. Open your minds, folks.

Now we have to keep working to get Annette Taddeo (FL-18) on the Red to Blue list and take out my congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Howard Dean raising funds on the Beach

Howard Dean meets with South Florida Democrats, including our own Seth Sklarey (the beard).

Fundraisers open to news media. That was a footnote to the Barack Obama campaign soon after he won the (presumptive) nomination … when was it? – months ago. No, wait. It was only two weeks ago. Seems a long time, doesn’t it.

One of the changes announced as Obama took the reins was to take the wraps off fundraisers. So tonight I was there blogging along with a bunch of TV cameras at Gemma on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. I just now watched the 11 p.m. news on CBS 4, and they blasted out a few sentences of Howard Dean’s pep talk to a throng of mostly youngish Obama people. It seems that opening up to news media doesn’t include a good sound feed, so it was quite over-modulated. (Technical talk.) They broadcast it anyway.

For those who saw the TV report and wondered what happened, here’s the skinny:

  • Campaigns merging. No more separate DNC and Obama campaign. “The Obama campaign is a delight to work with,” DNC Chairman Howard Dean said, and the merger will be complete in a few days.
  • No Money from PACS. “This is a real change” for the DNC. Your donations are ever more essential.
  • Voter File. “The more we use it the better it gets.” Get out there and knock on doors and call voters and find out what moves them. Everyone should sign up for the campaign’s neighborhood volunteer program and contact at least 25 neighbors. Then do it three or four more times. The internet is great, but “personal connections trump everything.”
  • Dean on our Congressional candidates. The three of them -- Joe Garcia, Raul Martinez and Annette Taddeo -- will win on a big Obama victory. And by the way, watch this space for news of who’s getting endorsed by organized labor and who’s getting Red to Blue. This will be hot news, and good news.
  • The new president (Obama) will have two main jobs. (1) “Heal America” and end “divisive politics.” (2) And restore America’s moral authority so that we can help warring nations find solutions to their conflicts. Somehow, I guess, the president will also end the war, fix the environment, save the economy and deal with health care, education, energy, steroids in sports and double-parking.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Joe TV: how to combat the Bush/Diaz-Balart linkup

A little message from Joe Garcia surfaced in my inbox. Time to listen to the man who will do such a better job in FL-25 than the incumbent:

The Internet and the 2008 election: We're ahead

This report from Pew Research has been in the news today. Here's a link to a summary of the report, and therein is a link to the full text.

Boil it down and it says our side is ahead in use of online tools for campaigning. To keep it that way, all of us need to hone our skills. Try something new. Try something else. Talk to your friends about it and see what they do. Try another new thing.

Gore to endorse at 8:30 p.m.

Al Gore will make his Obama endorsement tonight at 8:30 p.m. from a rally in Detroit. The endorsement will be streamed live on Gore has already penned a fundraising email for the campaign.

UPDATE: And here it is. It should be added that Gore risked nothing with this post-nomination endorsement, but it's a nice thing for Barack to have, particularly given Gore's popularity with the Democratic base (including here in "Florida, Florida, Florida" -- with props to the late Tim Russert ...) and his credibility on issues like climate change. Besides, by doing the endorsement in Michigan, Gore helped Barack's team collect maybe 20,000 more Michigan names and email addresses for the November ground game. And that's change we can believe in.

Fight the smears

This is part of our work in this election season. Fighting the smears. I am glad to report that the Obama campaign is not waiting for sometime close to the election to start confronting the lies that abound already on the internet and right-wing fulminatin' radio.

Click on this:

It takes you to where the truth will combat the lies.

And if you lose the link or forget, do a search for Obama and "fight the smears" and it will pop up.

I was moved into this by browsing a little in DailyKos this morning, where I happened upon this item about a Tennessee Democrat who's dubious about Obama.

Oh, yes, Sean Hannity is hammering on this. I've heard Hannity repeatedly nasaling this topic in recent weeks. It ascended from the Hannity depths to the point that Obama was asked about it during a debate in April, and our current ally Hillary Clinton wondered about it, too. So this is not just one Tennessee Democrat and Sean Hannity, this is up around the top of the media pyramid, and it will never go away. There, you read it here first. It will never go away.

I note that this isn't covered yet on Fight the Smears. It is a smear and it deserves a better response than what Obama said when asked by ABC's George Stephanopoulus if there was a problem in his knowing William Ayers, a onetime member of the Weather Underground.

His response, from one of many sources you will find if you Google this topic.

Obama replied that Ayers was a neighbor and acquaintance. "The notion that . . . me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense," he said.

This isn't a bad response; rather, since Obama is such a great speaker, his message-shapers should work on this topic and produce the ultimate sentence to put down this nonsense.

My feeling is that we can emerge from this approaching mud bath of a campaign in better shape and with some of our prejudices and ignorances wrestled to the ground and pinned to the point of surrender. "Uncle!" Sean Hannity will cry, but only if the force of reason has been applied to him like that headache remedy, and we all can see that these smears are mere vaporous distractions from the business of fixing this country.

UPDATE: Talk about smears! Take a look at the comments section after the Miami Herald finally published something about the Jefferson-Jackson dinner that rocked the Westin Diplomat Hotel on Saturday. I couldn't tell exactly when this story got on line, but the comments started early Sunday and were continuing Monday afternoon, and all the canards about Obama popped up here and there. It will not be easy to get through all this, but we must.

And I'm still looking in the printed Herald editions of Sunday and Monday for a report from the Jefferson-Jackson dinner. Nothing in the papers I got in Miami Beach. I couldn't find it online looking through the Herald's section called Political Currents. Finally, in the Naked Politics blog, I found the link in the paragraph above. Anyone else have trouble finding a report? I know the Herald is firing a ton of people (250 announced today) but I saw the Herald at the JJ.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Netroots meeting with FDP chair

Karen Thurman gladly welcomes Netroots Coalition during JJ day program
in Hollywood. Message: no more nay-saying about importance of the

UPDATE: Fyi, this photo was taken with my iPhone and then sent as an email attachment to a particular Google address, which then published it as the blog post you see above. It took about two minutes from the time I took the photo.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Vote Republican, sort of

I feel a day late picking up on this viral video.

The ideology of the jungle

Paul Krugman's column in the Friday NY Times caught my attention with the clever ditty taken from Upton Sinclair's muckraking classic "The Jungle." Read and enjoy. And let's think for a while about how hard it will be for the Obama administration to work up reasonable regulation for food production. While ending the war. And fixing health care. And saving the environment.

All given to us by the ideology of the jungle that has taken over so much of public life.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Suggested campaign strategy

Guest Blogger Charlotte Klieman, one of our most energetic campaigners, offers the following as a plan to contact voters. She is secretary of the Miami-Dade party's Executive Committee. The dates in her plan are weekends through the summer.

May I suggest a campaign strategy, whether or not the Obama people supercede or work in tandem with it, because time is whizzing by. Aside from the ultimate November election, there is an important August election with crucial amendment concerns that our local party should step up to lead. Here is my plan, culled - in part - from some known ideas. I hope the powers-that-be would consider it - sooner rather than later because, as we all know, these are very serious times.

A. 6/12-6/13 = DECIDE on targeted precincts.

B. DISTRIBUTION (@300 DEC members)- language as a factor. 6/14-6/15 = Email/land mail to each DEC member or club/caucus member (vanner) a list of 100 voters of the targeted precincts, requesting that each member generates VAN responses to at least 50 by end of week (6/20). Vanners transmit completed responses to select group of data-entry people. 6/21-6/22 = second set distributed

6/28-6/29 = third set

7/5-7/6 = fourth set

7/12-7/13 = fifth set

7/19-7/20 = sixth set

7/26-7/27 = seventh set


The @300 DEC/club/caucus members are divided among a core of 15 DEC members. Each of the core contacts 20 members during the afore-mentioned weekends, verifies the names of the completed contacts, and advises vanners to keep any non-completed contacts for future completion and/or pick-up. Core group reporting to Campaign Committee member.

Completed contacts = first 50 = prize; first 100 = prize;

Then, prizes in increments of 100.

Examples of prizes = certificate, photo with "politico", campaign items.

D. ENDORSEMENTS. At July 7th DEC meeting, (a) prizes distributed,

(b) focusing on half of the August ballot initiatives, a proponent and opponent of each will present their case (time-limited), and the DEC membership at that meeting will decide on respective endorsements. At the August 4th meeting, (a) prizes distributed, (b) the other half of the initiatives will likewise be addressed. E. After the August meeting, each vanner contacts voters from his lists, and promotes amendment votes, reflecting DEC endorsements. F. Same core of 15 DEC members will oversee this endorsement outreach, by contacting their respective 20 members in a timely way. G. At the Labor Day Picnic (a) prizes distributed (for VAN or for endorsement outreach). H. After Labor Day Picnic, system of DISTRIBUTION & ACCOUNTABILITY resumed as applied to other voter groupings.

Another bite at the apple

If you missed your chance to become a Florida delegate to the August convention in Denver, you have about ... four hours to make up for it. Barack Obama is exercising his right to review the delegation the state will send out west, and folks who have been down with the "O" but who weren't selected as delegates can apply to run during this second chance period, which ends Thursday (that's today) at 5 p.m. The details from the party are as follows:
The application period for Democrats interested in running for one of Florida's 16 at-large pledged delegates, 10 pledged PLEO delegates and 2 at-large pledged alternates for Senator Barack Obama has been extended to maximize participation at this summer's national convention.

To qualify, interested Democrats must have been registered voters in Florida as of December 31, 2007 (the closing date for voting in the January 29 primary).

Last month's DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee decision to reinstate the Florida delegation offered Presidential candidates the opportunity to extend the delegate selection process, but today's announcement doesn't affect the dozens of delegates elected at district level meetings held across the state of Florida.

The Obama campaign has opted to extend the PLEO, at-large and at-large alternate delegate selection process, but the current district-level delegates pledged to Obama will remain. Delegates pledged to other candidates are not affected by this. Also, Democrats who applied previously for PLEO and At-Large slots do not need to re-apply to be considered.

Click here for the app.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tricks for your cell phone

This was a revelation. The cell phone can cost so much, and the service plan also is expensive. But there are free ways to get 411. You don't have to pay a buck or two to get the number of that pizza parlor.

The helpful NY Times article tips you to a bunch of free info services. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

First Facebook president: Obama

If you're still trying to figure out where Barack Obama found success, here's a link to a useful article in Sunday's NY Times Week in Review section. Will he be our first Facebook president?

Regular readers of this blog know I put up similar stuff a couple weeks ago, including a link to The Atlantic article cited by the Times. Here's a link to another analysis, by Andrew Sullivan.

This is new material for political campaigning, and we are trying to fashion our own social-networking links in Miami-Dade County Democratic campaigning. Watch this space for future details. It won't be the whole story, by any means. The idea is to expand impact, enroll new voters, organize more effectively. Next step after all that top-notch campaigning is to use these technical tools in good government.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

All in the family

Senator Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign in gracious fashion earlier this afternoon, with a speech that was about as good an exegesis about the consequences of politics as I've heard this campaign season. I just watched it on the TiVo, since I was at a community forum in Liberty City with Hot 105 and the Metro Miami Action Plan Trust for most of the morning and afternoon. As to grades, I'd give the speech an "A." Like Al Gore, Hillary gave her best speech at the end.

Hillary declared that though the race had been tough, "the Democratic party is a family." She fully endorsed Obama, drawing a smattering of boos when she first mentioned his name about 6 minutes into the talk. But by the end, she had captured the crowd with the formulation "when we live in a country when (mentions something that must change, like healthcare for all or proper care for veterans,) we will live in a stronger country. And that's why we have to work hard to elect Barack Obama as president." Then, toward the end, came the part about consequences, with an elegant merger with Obama's major theme added for emphasis:
... You know, I've been involved in politics and public life in one way or another for four decades. And during those ... During those 40 years, our country has voted 10 times for president. Democrats won only three of those times, and the man who won two of those elections is with us today. [Ovation for Bill Clinton]

We made tremendous progress during the '90s under a Democratic president, with a flourishing economy and our leadership for peace and security respected around the world.

Just think how much more progress we could have made over the past 40 years if we'd had a Democratic president. Think about the lost opportunities of these past seven years on the environment and the economy, on health care and civil rights, on education, foreign policy and the Supreme Court.

Imagine how far ... we could have come, how much we could have achieved if we had just had a Democrat in the White House.

We cannot let this moment slip away. We have come too far and accomplished too much.

Now, the journey ahead will not be easy. Some will say we can't do it, that it's too hard, we're just not up to the task. But for as long as America has existed, it has been the American way to reject can't-do claims and to choose instead to stretch the boundaries of the possible through hard work, determination, and a pioneering spirit.

It is this belief, this optimism that Senator Obama and I share and that has inspired so many millions of our supporters to make their voices heard. So today I am standing with Senator Obama to say: Yes, we can!

Hopefully, her die-hard supporters will listen. Two words, sisters: Supreme Court.

I think it's clear that Hillary did everything the Obama team could have wanted her to do today. She offered a sense of triumph and inspiration to her women supporters, particularly those older women who believed this might be their last opportunity to see a woman running the country. To them, she announced that the way had been set for the next woman who runs to go all the way, and for that victory to be rendered unremarkable. She unambiguously declared Obama the winner of a close contest. And she very effectively laid out the consequences of failure. She talked about the challenges of sexism and discrimination, but thankfully, she didn't dwell on it. Instead, she declared that if the highest glass ceiling remains in place in America, "there are 18 million cracks in it" now. By doing so, she secured her place in history as the pace-setter for whoever becomes the first woman president (if it ultimately is not her.)

In addition, the venue, the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. (which is dedicated to one of my favorite subjects: architecture,) was nothing short of spectacular. (The NBM website's homepage says the venue will be "closed for a special event" on Saturday. Cheeky!)

I have been a harsh critic of the Clinton campaign, having come into the primary last January as a die-hard Clinton Democrat, who became both incredibly inspired by Barack Obama and sorely disappointed with the negative trajectory of the race, which I feel was driven by the former president and the Senator from New York, as well as by some of her senior advisers. Today, I think Hillary took a step back toward the grace that people like me had long expected of her.

(Cross-blogged at the ReidReport .)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Obama+Facebook=Bumper sticker

A little while ago I got this Facebook message from MoveOn saying I could get a free Obama bumper sticker by clicking on a link. I did it and decided to go for a $25 donation and get 100 Obama bumper stickers. Soon came another message from MoveOn saying it took only 30 minutes to have 1,000 people join that group. Great!

Now, here's your chance to climb aboard: Click on this link and join up.

UPDATE: The Obama campaign emails with news that the McCain campaign raised $21 in May, along with $23.7 million raised in partnership with the Republican National Committee. Bottom line: Please give to the Obama campaign, and don't wait. As to the first paragraph above, don't go for the free single bumper sticker -- get more stickers by giving some money. is a link that lets your money be matched by money from another donor. Cool doubling.

Hurricane McCain and the Everglades paving crew

Good crowd came out on the McArthur Causeway Friday morning and all Miami TV stations covered this lively demo.

Kudos to the Florida Democratic Party for jumping on John McCain’s Florida trip and digging up some dirt.

You’ll note that yesterday I posted here with the FDP’s new ad ripping McCain for failing to support catastrophe insurance. That ad had wonderful footage of Republicans saying, Nope, McCain’s no good for Florida, doesn’t have Florida interests at heart, out of touch. Thank you, Research Department, for holding onto stuff from the Republican primary trail.

Now on Friday the FDP and Miami-Dade Democrats and the AFL-CIO combined on a vigorous demo outside Parrot Jungle, where McCain was doing a fundraiser in the morning. And to mark his Everglades trip in the afternoon, out comes an FDP news release revealing how he’s in thrall to a big developer who’s on record wanting to pave over the Everglades.

I call this energetic action. The FDP has taken a lot of lumps this year but isn’t sulking in a corner. Now is the time to be striding out in fact-based actions and demanding to be heard, like a healthy political party.

On top of the McCain critique, we got in a swipe at beleaguered U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) who seems uncertain whether he’s for or against saving the Everglades. Come on, Mario, we know you’re against it. It’s the environmental jewel of your district – spanning from Miami’s western suburbs across to the outskirts of Naples on the Gulf Coast – but you’ve done nada in leading the way to the bipartisan goal of restoring the Everglades.

More detail on that below, but first the skinny on McCain and “trailblazer” Alfred Hoffman Jr.To quote the FDP news release:

Only one thing could be more damaging to the Everglades and the future of Florida than a major storm - Hurricane McCain and his dirty developers.

John McCain visits the Everglades today on a trip paid for by his campaign, which has accepted thousands of dollars bundled for him by an extremely controversial developer named Alfred Hoffman Jr. - a major fundraiser for the Bush family.

"Does John McCain want to protect the Everglades or destroy them? McCain should be ashamed of himself for accepting money from developers who want to steamroll the state of Florida, without regard for its people or its environment," Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen L. Thurman said. "If he is serious about the Everglades, McCain must return, at a minimum, the $100,000 raised by Hoffman and others who profit from irresponsible, sprawling developments."

Hoffman, former CEO of WCI Communities, is a $100,000 bundler ("Trailblazer") for McCain's campaign. In 2004, Hoffman led efforts to coerce then-Gov. Jeb Bush into blocking a vital restoration project. [Washington Post, 12/10/07; Public Citizen, 5/10/08] Hoffman's group, the Association of Florida Community Developers, "filed a legal challenge against the state Department of Environmental Protection, which had proposed a rule governing the water protections." [Palm Beach Post, 4/26/04]

"You can't stop it... There's no power on Earth that can stop it!" Hoffman told the Washington Post in 2003, describing his intent to expand development from southwest Florida toward the Everglades. [Washington Post, 12/10/07]

In 2004, Hoffman was national co-chairman and Florida finance chairman for President Bush's re-election campaign. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/19/05]

I call that pretty convincing. If I were McCain I’d be ponying up that $100,000 and bowing my head in shame.

Now, what about Mario Diaz-Balart? To quote another FDP release, soon echoed by Joe Garcia’s campaign to unseat MD-B:

On a conference call today, Mario Diaz-Balart said he "held his nose" to vote for the Everglades funding bill, echoing the McCain campaign's misleading talking points.

But a Miami Herald report yesterday said Diaz Balart "vigorously supported" the Everglades bill McCain voted against. So how can Diaz Balart be trusted, and how can voters possibly be asked to hold their noses to vote for him or John McCain who brags about standing against Florida's best interests?

Everglades Bill Was Strongly Supported By Florida Republicans, Including Diaz-Balart, Crist and Martinez.
The Miami Herald wrote, John McCain "opposed spending $2 billion on restoring the national park, siding with President Bush against Florida's political establishment -- including top Republican supporters Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez... In South Florida, three of McCain's key supporters in the House -- Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- vigorously supported the Water Development Resources Act. 'Congress has not passed a WRDA bill in the last seven years, creating a serious backlog of infrastructure projects throughout the country,' Lincoln Diaz-Balart said in a statement issued after the vote overriding the president's veto." [Miami Herald, 6/5/08]

"It's well known that these developers attempted, and in some cases, succeeded in buying off the Bushes and other Republicans," Florida Democratic Party spokesman Mark Bubriski said. "Is it not within reason for McCain to return the dirty money if it would help assure Florida voters that he is serious about his 'desire' to preserve the Everglades?"

This is going to be a hot summer, with McCain making repeated visits to Florida and the Democratic Party repeatedly calling him to task.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

How to deny Florida to McCain

This is being promoted by the Florida Democratic Party as antidote to those who think Barack Obama will certainly lose the Sunshine State.

I've got to agree with that Republican on the plane: John McCain is outa touch.

Note that this piece has almost all Republicans talking. It's so good to see that they are just as good as we are at damaging our candidates in the primary fuss. The Republicans thinned their crowd of candidates down to one so fast that we've sort of forgotten that they criticized each other right to the bone, but now we're in the final lap -- Lord, almost five months of it! -- and we should see many of their own telling quotes on why John McCain is a loser.

UPDATE: The Palm Beach Post has an editorial explaining further why McCain is outa touch on catastrophe insurance. Are we surprised that he's not clued in -- the guy who confuses Iraq and Iran, Shiites and Sunnis? This style of studied ignorance was a feature of George W. Bush's 2000 campaign for president. Was it part of the business that he's a guy you'd like to have a beer with? Only if it was someone likely to take instruction, maybe. Voters have had it with dumb guys running for president. I don't mind if the Republicans pin the elite label on Obama. Let's have a superior president, for a change.

Ros-Lehtinen in the news: PO maintenance and not a rubber stamp

Somehow these two items in the Miami Herald have an internal affinity. On Wednesday we read (way back in the Metro pages) that she’s wounded by declarations that she’s a rubber stamp, and on Thursday up pops a story saying she’s being called on to fix problems with the Post Office in Coconut Grove. Well, what is more associated with rubber stamps than Post Offices? I see appropriate written all over this connection. Yes, stamp the word appropriate on these stories.

I indulged my PO complaint mode and posted a comment on Thursday’s story suggesting that we retire Ros-Lehtinen and put her to work maintaining U.S. Post Offices. The one I attend in Miami Beach (71st Street) needs the weeds cut.

Getting on the train

First off, I'd like to thank Larry Thorson for the shout-out, and Bret and the Miami-Dade Dems for the invite to contribute. I've been blogging for several years (at as well as working as a freelance journalist and radio personality (most recently at NewsTalk 1080 AM). More about that some other time...

Now, some news.

Since he clinched the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, there has been a rush by members of Congress to switch their allegiance form Hillary Clinton (or uncommitted) to Barack Obama. Earlier today, MSNBC's First Read counted 19 Congressional superdelegates who made the switch, including swing staters Sen. Ken Salazar of my former home state, Colorado, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Rep. Tom Udall of New Mexico and the latest, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (who's also a potential v.p. pick.) That's not including the en masse endorsement of Obama by the New York delegation, led by the dean, former HRC supporter Charlie Rangel (who also led that 24-member conference call that forcibly cut short Hillary Clinton's post-campaign reflection time.)

I got a tip this afternoon that the Florida delegation will follow suit, and endorse Obama as soon as this afternoon. No press conference, just a statement. The move would theoretically jump start the healing process between the Congressional Black Caucus members (Kendrick Meek, Alcee Hastings and Corinne Brown,) and some of their constituents, who smarted over the members' endorsement of Clinton over Obama, even after all three districts favored Obama by double-digit margins in the January primary. (For the sake of irony, Obama Guy Robert Wexler's district went for Hillary by a wide margin.)

No statement has been issued yet, so this one's still developing...

Update: The endorsement statement, from Corinne Brown, Kendrick Meek, Alcee Hastings and Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been released. It reads in part:
“It is with enthusiasm and excitement that we endorse Barack Obama for president.

“We are looking forward to working with Senator Obama in the days, weeks, and months ahead. America cannot afford another four years of failed Republican leadership, and we are committed to doing anything and everything in our power to ensure that Barack Obama is elected the next President of the United States.

“We also ask Senator Obama to do everything in his power to see to it that Florida has a full delegation to the Democratic National Convention with full voting rights.

“We congratulate Senator Clinton for a hard-fought campaign. Never in our lifetimes did we think that we would have the choice of a woman or an African American for the office of the presidency. We hope Americans realize how much the two of them have done for our country during this campaign. America is, indeed, a better place for having the two of them run for the highest office in the land.

Joy Reid joins us blogging

Welcome to Joy Reid, who's joining us as a blogger. Maybe you already know her work at

This blog is looking for more bloggers. Don't be shy. The email address is over in the right-hand column.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Club News: Cuban American club celebrates Obama

Here's a news release from this busy club. (And you can join them for breakfast at Versailles, 9 a.m. Saturday June 21.)

The Cuban-American Democratic Club of Miami-Dade County (CADCMDC) congratulates Senator Barak Obama upon obtaining the needed number of delegates as presumptive Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the Nation: The Party Convention in Denver shall nominate him and in November, we will celebrate his victory.

At the same time, we acknowledge the political merits and strengths of Senator Hillary Clinton in this long and historic electoral campaign.

In our organization we have shared militant efforts in support of both candidates. Beginning today, we will unite behind Senator Obama to make him the next President of the United States of America, while celebrating the end of one of the worst times in the history of the nation.

Victory of Democratic candidates to the Presidency, the U. S. Congress and State Legislatures shall dawn a new path of CHANGE on behalf of all of our citizenry.

The Miami Dade Cuban American Democratic Club is the only Cuban American organization that is officially certified by the Democratic Party of Florida.

H├ęctor Caraballo, President

Carl Muller

Arthur Costa

Rainer Selva

Fanny Olmo

Giancarlo Sopo

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Vanity Fair examines primary race through the blogs, Kos first

Get a cup of coffee and click on this. Learn stuff.

Busted: Diaz-Balarts in politics of corruption

It’s out in the open, thanks to the Miami Herald. Bravo for the Herald’s “watchdog” report on Monday under Dan Christensen’s byline detailing how Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21) and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) parlayed their seats in the U.S. House into fat campaign donations . Read it at this link.

This sort of stuff is why Raul Martinez and Joe Garcia are running strongly against, respectively, Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart.

Joe Garcia’s campaign issued a statement saying:

“These are the politics of corruption that have plagued South Florida for far too long. People with disabilities shouldn’t have to wait for the Diaz-Balarts to receive $10,000 in campaign contributions in order to receive the medical care they deserve. Unfortunately, our veterans and troops didn’t enjoy the luxury of big corporate PAC’s and lobbyists pushing for them when Mario Diaz-Balart voted twice against the new GI Bill.”

Raul Martinez reacted powerfully Monday night in a speech to the Miami-Dade Democratic Party monthly meeting. He said that Lincoln Diaz-Balart had acted oddly a few days earlier when asked about corruption in Washington. “He knew there was a reporter looking into a bill he put up three days after he got a donation,” Martinez said.

This affair made me think of the Diaz-Balarts’ explanation for voting against the SCHIP bill expanding children’s health insurance coverage. They weren’t against children’s health, they said, they were just opposed to the way the bill was to be financed through increased taxes on tobacco products, which would hurt little cigar rollers in Florida. They failed to mention their fat campaign donations from Big Tobacco.

In that case campaign donations led to the Diaz-Balarts’ voting against a bill, while in this case of the Maryland prosthetics company, campaign donations led to proposing a bill.

A strong argument for getting money out of politics.

Don’t neglect to read the Herald’s sidebar story about the company in this case: under investigation for Medicare fraud in Brooklyn, NY, plus a “parallel inquiry” by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Debating chickens

Annette Taddeo and the empty chair

The photo shows the bravery – lack of it, I mean – in our Republican congressional incumbents. They assert willingness to talk, set a date, ask to change the date, agree to a new date, and finally cancel. It’s a little dirty trick, taken, no doubt, from the Richard Nixon political playbook.

Some choice words of reaction from Annette Taddeo, whose date with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in the AFL-CIO arena last week was a bust: “Her not being here is inexcusable. … I really believe you have been ignored. … On Saturday she’s to be at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, but she didn’t have time for you.”

It was a fine display of temper from the Democratic challenger in District 18, which spans the beaches to Key West. Her event on Thursday marked three days in a row that the Republican incumbents blew off the Democratic candidates: Joe Garcia vs. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) on Tuesday and Raul Martinez vs. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21) on Wednesday.

Here's how Joe Garcia describes it on his website:

For two hours, our community heard me discuss my plans to bring a safe and responsible end to the War in Iraq, revitalize our economy and pass a health care plan that covers everyone and lowers premiums. All they got from Mario Diaz-Balart was an empty podium.

Where was Diaz-Balart during this important debate? On an AM talk radio show to talk about his strategy of "dividing Cuban, and Jewish, voters."

That's not the kind of politics we need when our community is facing so many problems.

And over at Raul Martinez' website, they're accusing Lincoln Diaz-Balart of "elitist tendencies" for refusing to appear with Martinez at the labor forum. Dee-licious!

Fred Frost, who heads the union grouping, introduced Taddeo to a crowd of about 50 by noting that there are 14,000 union members in District 18. “I truly believe she (Ros-Lehtinen) has disrespected the South Florida AFL-CIO for the last time,” Frost said.

We will see. And this is not only a race for us in South Florida. The Sunday NY Times had us under the lens again. “Democrats see Cuba travel limits as a campaign issue in Florida,” was the headline.

That may be a little out of date already. Listen to Joe Garcia talking with people at last week’s naturalization ceremonies, and health care and gas prices are the first topics he pounds. But anyway, it’s at least interesting to see the national media paying attention to Cuba policy and the nuances of SoFla demographics.

The Times article devotes a lot of space to the view that Cuba travel restrictions are on the way out. But at the end it quotes a contrary view from pollster Sergio Bendixen, who ventures that the Democratic challengers may be mistaken if they focus on Cuba policy.

“What do you gain by focusing your campaign on travel restrictions and remittance restrictions?” Mr. Bendixen said. “I don’t get it. It’s turning off more than half the electorate that’s not Cuban, and the people who would benefit from a change are a very small slice of the Cuban electorate. It’s a mistaken strategy.”

Having listened to all the challengers (repeatedly), I have to say that they are not focusing on Cuba the way Bendixen seems to think. Yes, two of them (Garcia and Martinez) are Cuban Americans, and Cuba policy is part of their stump speeches. But they know their districts and just how much is Cuban. Taddeo told her union audience last week that District 18 is “under 30 percent Cuban” and it’s far from the makeup that sent Ros-Lehtinen to Congress 18 years ago. Voters, including Cuban Americans, now have health care at the top of their priorities, she said.

Her speech opened with a telling anecdote from her background as a business leader who would travel to Washington to lobby Ros-Lehtinen on what the business community saw as top legislative priorities. Health care, for instance. “Our list of priorities was getting longer,” she said. “We are being represented by someone who does not vote in the best interest of our community.”

And, she pointed out, it was a business delegation asking for a yes vote on children’s health insurance, not a labor delegation.

Taddeo also thought it was noteworthy that Ros-Lehtinen now is changing some of her votes and talking to the Chamber of Commerce. “They all know me,” she said of the Chamber. “She doesn’t have the labor community. She doesn’t have the business community. Who does she have?”

Good question.