Friday, July 25, 2008

Good local report on canvass in Miami-Dade

Here's some local news recognition of our campaigning for the statewide canvass, as reported in the SunPost. More walking the streets and phoning will get us attention and votes in November.

Thanks to William Pena Wells, president of the Three Villages Democratic Club, for bringing it to my attention. As he said,

I want to share the SunPost story with everyone, especially all those who worked so hard to make the event a success and thank you all... Without each and every one of you, nothing would have happened.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Guest blogger: Should impeachment be "On the table"

Guest blogger: David Cooper

I know David through membership in Veterans for Peace. Here he writes about impeachment, then and now …

Should Impeachment be “On the Table”

July 2008, Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s articles of impeachment were read into the Congressional Record. The House then voted to send them to the House Judiciary Committee. The following are statements of some of the Republican members of that committee, which are also part of the Congressional Record.

Lamar Smith (R-TX): We should not underestimate the gravity of the case against the President. When he put his hand on the Bible and recited his oath of office, he swore to faithfully uphold the laws of the United States. Not some laws, all laws… The rules under which President Nixon would have been tried for impeachment, had he not resigned, contained this statement, ‘The office of the President is such that it calls for a higher level of conduct than the average citizen of the United States…’ This will not be an easy task, in fact, it is a difficult ordeal for all Americans, but we will get through it. We are a great nation and a strong people. Our country will endure because our Constitution works, and has for 200 years. As much as we might wish to avoid this process of impeachment, we must resist the temptation to close our eyes and pass by. The President’s actions must be evaluated for one simple reason, the truth counts… No one is above the law. Actions have consequences. We the People should insist on these high ideals.[1]

James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) Being a poor example isn’t grounds for impeachment, undermining the rule of law is… Impeachment is one of the checks the Framers gave the Congress to prevent the Executive, or the Judicial branches from becoming corrupt or tyrannical… What is [at issue] here is the truth and the rule of law.[2]

Howard Coble (R-NC) Oliver Wendell Holmes said, ‘Sin has many tools, but the lie is the handle that fits them all.’ And the centerpiece to this scenario, I am convinced, is indeed the lie. It is the handle to the tool. And if we turn a blind eye to perjury in this instance, what precedent do we establish when subsequent cases involving perjury must be resolved fairly and impartially?[3]

Elton Gallegly (R-CA) A society without law is anarchy. Societies that ignore the law are condemned to violence and chaos… I believe in the rule of law. This President violated the Constitution. To condone this would be to condemn our society to anarchy. Mr. Chairman, I cannot, and will not, condone such action.[4]

Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) Implicit in that idea is that no one is above the law, including the chief executive. If we truly respect the presidency, we cannot allow the president to be above the law. When a factory worker or medical doctor or retiree breaks the law, they do so with the knowledge that they are not above the law. The same principal must also apply to the most powerful and privileged in our nation including the president of the United States. To lose this principal devastates a legacy entrusted to us by our Founding Fathers and protected to us by generations of American families… I have a Constitutional duty to follow the truth wherever it leads. The truth in this case leads me to believe that the president knowingly engaged in a calculated pattern of lies, deceit and delay in order to mislead the American people.[5]

Stephen Chabot (R-OH) It’s become apparent to me that impeachment is the only remedy that adequately addresses this president’s illegal and unethical acts… When we cast our votes, we are not voting as republicans or democrats, we are voting as Americans. Our allegiance does not lie with any one president, but with our country. Our charge is not handed down from any one political party, but from the Constitution.[6]

Chris Cannon (R-UT) We are in a defining moment in our history. What we do here will set the standard for what is acceptable for this and future presidents. I believe profoundly that the behavior of this president is unacceptable because I agree with John Jay, one of our Founding Fathers, who said, ‘When oaths cease to be sacred, our dearest and most valuable rights become insecure…’ I submit that in the spirit of our Founding Fathers, and John F. Kennedy, that our first duty is to provide for the security of the fundamental rights of Americans. To properly perform that duty, we must vote to impeach the president. Thank you.[7]

All of these statements by these Congressmen were made during the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton. If they were right then, regarding a president lying to Congress about an extra-marital affair, then their words hold true today.

Let’s remember that impeachment does not mean removal from office. Impeachment is nothing more than an indictment, the same way a Grand Jury brings charges against an average citizen. If the House votes to impeach, hearings will be held to determine if there is enough evidence for a trial, which would be conducted by the Senate. After the trial, the Senate will vote to convict or acquit.

The hearings in the House of Representatives are the only way that We the People can check the power, or abuse of power, of our elected officials (and those that are appointed) through our representatives. It is these hearings that we are entitled to, and should be held. Let the chips fall where they may. The House may decide to send it to the Senate or not. The Senate may vote to acquit as they did in the Clinton case or they may convict, as they surely would have in the Nixon case, had he not resigned first. Virtually all Republicans, and a large number of Democrats were initially against the impeachment of Nixon. It wasn’t until the “process” of hearings that exposed the corruption and the abuse of power of the Nixon administration that a Senate trial was possible.

It is this “process” of democracy that is important. It is how we remain a self-governing people. Without the “Constitutional process” we no longer have a government of, by, and for We the People. When the Congressional leadership takes impeachment “off the table,” when they deny us the “process,” they deny us our democracy. While the Founding Fathers never mentioned God in the Constitution, (and only mentioned religion once, in the context that the United States will not have a state, or “official” religion), they mentioned impeachment no less than seven times.

David Cooper

July 15, 2008

References: Transcripts of opening statements to the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearings are at:








Saturday, July 19, 2008

Surprise guest at Netroots Nation

Al Gore urges all to use to deal with global

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Netroots pal

Don't worry. I also had my picture taken with "the Obama girl" but the
censor won't allow it to be published. I thought Austin would be more

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Finally in Austin: Netroots Nation starts on Thursday

Some of the contents of the swag bag given to participants. See if you can pick out the two condoms. Condoms? There also was a fortune cookie and a bag of salsa chips among the flood of reading material.

My candidate for Congress, Annette Taddeo, is on two panels for this year’s bloggers’ extravaganza. Now called Netroots Nation, in its first two years the convention was called YearlyKos after the DailyKos blog that is one of the young fathers of this online world of analysis, news and political organization/campaigning. We used to be profane and profound. Now we’re trying to change the world, and Taddeo, the candidate in my home congressional district FL-18, is on two panels with change as the keyword.

Friday afternoon she’s on the Future Leaders panel talking about being a progressive candidate in a newly competitive district, and Saturday she is talking about the process of selecting the presidential candidate with emphasis on reforming and improving. Florida’s experience this year is no doubt a theme to be explored.

Apologies to readers for not having put up many posts while I was on the road. The old laptop refused to link up with my motel Wifi nets, and if I had something to say it didn’t ever get out of the neighborhood.

Must get better gear, or must get smarter at settings. But why did it work that one night back in the Panhandle? Could this be only a Florida-functioning laptop? The test is to come.

While we’re waiting for a call, let me recommend a new website to you: which is a Texas blog, credited in the current issue of The Nation with having a lot to do with the Democratic Party’s rising star in the Lone Star State. Our counterparts in Florida are and the Florida Progressive Coalition blog.

This more locally focused blog will in future be asking you to cast your attention more often to these blogs with statewide focus. Yes, I’m approaching a state of solidarity. Must do more for the team!

While I’ve been on the road there has been splendid news on the fund-raising front for Raul Martinez and Joe Garcia, who are on the way to ousting the Diaz-Balart brothers from FL-21 and FL-25, respectively, as well as for Annette Taddeo, whose trembling FL-18 incumbent is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Here’s a link to the Miami Herald roundup on the races.

If there’s time I hope to post some observations about my travels to Austin but for the moment I’ll only mention one highlight from Cajun country in Louisiana. This was a little stop for a snack off I-49, which connects New Orleans and Shreveport. I pulled off at Exit 17 and stopped at the only business in this rural area, a gas station with what looked like just a lunch counter. Smelled good and spicy. I asked if they served breakfast. Yes, the young lady said, they could make a ham and egg sandwich, or they had tournedos with sausage and scrambled eggs. I asked for a tournedo, and along came the proprietor, a jovial man who asked me if I wanted some boudin – pronounced Boo-Dan, with a little more stress on the Dan. I don’t know what boudin is, I said. He opened a lid on the steam table and there was a deep pan of white sausage links. He told the young lady to cut me up a sample, and I ended up with a delicious plate of spicy sausage. He said he sold it far and wide, including to Florida.

So I said I’d mention his name in my blog (Blog? he replied.) He’s Lynwood Hebert (pronounced A-bair), accepting orders for boudin and cracklins at 337 942-8828.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Homeless in Alachua County

Your blogger is on the road again, but the headline above does not refer to me. I’m safely housed in Super8 Country tonight somewhere between Tallahassee and Pensacola en route to the bloggers’ convention in Austin via back-roads Louisiana.

As I was barreling up I-75 past Gainesville I believe the FM locked on UF public radio for a while and there was a local story about a big surge of homelessness in Alachua County. I was driving and couldn’t take notes, of course, but I believe they said the number was up 40 percent from last year, and the total was 1,800. Taking care of the homeless is more difficult than usual because donations to charities are off, the report said.

This is what we get after a Bush as governor and a Bush as president. How could this have happened in our splendidly well-educated land?

Anyway, I am away from my usual desk for a couple weeks but will try to blog as much as possible. This is also a time for readers to step up and contribute tasty comments, photos, song and dance. If you’d like to post something on the main page, email it to me and I’ll try to put it up crediting you as guest blogger.

Restaurant Review: Jay’s Restaurant on US 90 in Live Oak serves up a mean liver and onions. Don’t tell my cardiologist.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Click on this for Democratic committeeman/woman status

Candidate list on the Miami-Dade County website. There is competition for a number of positions. Check it out.

And let's claim a little milestone: The previous post was the 500th for this blog since it started back in the Stone Age. Yay!

FISA today. Doing anything?

Having decided belatedly to get into action on the FISA bill, I enrolled in the fastest-growing group on; that is, the one urging the candidate to be much tougher. Here's the link for you to join as well, if you like.

There's also one on Facebook to be together in watching the drama unfold. I joined that, too.

WHOA, UPDATE: So I was out all day and when I came back I had 235 emails in the inbox of the account linked with the site. Wow! People all over the land were not happy about the FISA situation. Thanks goodness I figured out how to stop the inflow of emails.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Useless online poll but vote anyway for the Dems

This is running now on Spanish-language TV Ch 41 in Miami. Why not??!! A chance to vote for Annette Taddeo, Raul Martinez and Joe Garcia.

McCain: Don’t know economics, math, facts …

Thanks to the Florida Democratic Party for pointing this out. John McCain’s campaign has a radio ad out in Spanish that’s replete with errors. Read it on, and groan.

Well, he’s on record as not knowing economics. So it's no surprise he’s hiring ad writers who don’t know math or facts.

What would we get with a McCain administration? Something like FEMA under George W. Bush – “You’re doin’ a heckuva job, Brownie.”

Re-elect? NO for 2 of 3 Republicans in South Florida

RING, RING: It’s my cellphone ringing Wednesday afternoon, and on the line is the third Democrat in the Congressional races referred to above, Annette Taddeo. She doesn’t like the implication that her campaign may not be doing well. So I’m going to include her comments in boldface and write through some of the material in this post from Tuesday July 8.

This is terrific news for those campaigning for a strong Democratic House of Representatives. Fresh polling shows two of the three sitting Republicans in Miami-Dade County under the 50-percent threshold of incumbent viability.

So why am I disappointed? Darn, my incumbent Republican representative, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is not below the threshold. That’s FL-18, where Ros-Lehtinen has been in office since 1989. This is a call to renewed and more intense work on behalf of the excellent Annette Taddeo, the Democratic challenger in this district that covers the coast from Miami Beach to Key West and a chunk of mainland Miami.

Taddeo feels strongly that her campaign is on schedule for victory, and in fact that Ros-Lehtinen is far more vulnerable than the poll in Monday’s Miami Herald would have you think. Taddeo said her campaign did a poll in November that showed only 50 percent willing to re-elect Ros-Lehtinen, and a recent poll showed only 48 percent for re-electing the incumbent.

So, all three Republicans are below the waterline! This is what I’ve been calling Landslide Country for months!

And, Taddeo said, even the 31 percent she registered in the Bendixon poll (see below) was “extremely good for me” considering that she hasn’t put out any ads yet and she’s not politically well-known like her fellow challengers, Martinez and Garcia.

But her best news came from a different kind of polling, what Taddeo called “informed trial heat,” in which respondents are questioned as if a campaign had been going on and they had heard positive and negative things about the incumbent and challenger. In that case, Taddeo was ahead, 44 percent to 42 percent, she said.

This polling has been done by her own campaign, a sign of a well-financed and professional challenge to the long-serving Republican.

“We need to raise money to let people know how she votes in Congress,” Taddeo said. “Then she’s finished.” Ros-Lehtinen’s votes, of course, are for the war, for torture, for illegal wiretapping, against expanding children’s health insurance, etc. Typical Bush rubberstamp, though she denies it – a sign of a bad conscience.

That reminds me: Ring, Ring. “This is Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen … “

That was on my voicemail Tuesday, my representative in the U.S. House robo-calling me, no doubt to explain that she’s done so much that she ought to be elected again. Well, dear lady, I don’t give a fig if you’ve dredged the Miami River with a teaspoon yourself. Tell me you’ve stopped the war, stopped torture. Oh, no?? You’re very bad on the big stuff.

OK, back to the rest of the story from yesterday:

Better news for Joe Garcia in FL-25 (the outer western suburbs of Miami and The Everglades) and even better for Raul Martinez in FL-21 (inner western suburbs of Miami). They are almost within the margin of error – barely behind the brothers Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, respectively.

They all need your help. Click on these links and give something. South Florida can be another of these places around the country where the Bush rubber-stampers properly are punished by the voters.

Polling by Bendixon & Associates shows the following numbers in response to the question of which candidate you would support if the election were held today:

District 18

· Ros-Lehtinen 58 percent

· Taddeo 31 percent

· Undecided 11 percent

District 21

· Lincoln Diaz-Balart 41 percent

· Raul Martinez 37 percent

· Undecided 22 percent

District 25

· Mario Diaz-Balart 44 percent

· Joe Garcia 39 percent

· Undecided 17 percent

There are two comprehensive reports available for further provocation of your thoughts. The Miami Herald’s headline has the incumbents’ rivals “on their heels.” And CBS4 with Jim Defede is replete with advice that Garcia and Martinez concentrate on getting out the vote among undecided Anglos and African-Americans in their districts, because the Cuban voter has mostly already decided.

I want to go on and raise the question of how Barack Obama’s just-arriving campaign may affect these congressional races. Remember, Florida was not on the main burner of presidential campaigning until the Democratic nomination was decided elsewhere – thanks to the too-early primary date imposed by the Republican-dominated state legislature. So while the Obama campaign got its feet on the ground everywhere else in the country, it was only a few valiant local volunteers who stoked the flame of Obama enthusiasm with parties to watch the primary results in other states and other minor-key events.

It has been different now for a couple of weeks. There is a state campaign office and local campaign offices, with 250 Obama Fellows arriving lately in South Florida alone. These mostly young volunteers have been at meetings of our Democratic clubs, as well as running voter-registration events and recruiting more volunteers. Last night at the Miami-Dade Democratic Party’s meeting of the Executive Committee, three of the Fellows spoke, and a prominent part of their message was a promise to work for Democratic victories all along the ticket – not just the president.

All this, I’m sure, will help our Democratic Congressional candidates. And it’s earlier than we’ve had such campaign energy in the past. Certainly not in the 2004 campaign season, when the John Kerry campaign was barely visible four months before election day. Now is the time to make up some of that narrowing gap and send all three of our Republican incumbents home from Congress.

Again, Annette Taddeo is confident that she’s running strongly against Ros-Lehtinen. Taddeo’s Colombian background – she was born there to an American father and a Colombian mother – got her a lot of exposure in Spanish-language media recently after the release of the hostages in Colombia. And keep your eyes open for an important endorsement for Annette.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Obama campaign erases boredom: 44 events in SoFla

Yet another new name in the Obama campaign surfaced in my email this afternoon, Angela Botticella, field organizer for the Florida campaign to elect Barack Obama. Welcome, Angela!

Now I'm clicking on the link she sent to find a "Vote for Change" event, and what do I get? A list of 44 events on the July 4th holiday throughout South Florida -- 44! And I know of a few more not listed.

Did anyone perhaps think that Florida might be written off? I heard progressive voices in recent weeks resigned to being a backwater, as far as the Obama campaign was concerned. This was Clinton country, some said, Obama won't have a chance. On what evidence? was my question, but anyway, that was their opinion, perhaps from having read too much mainstream media. And they were dispirited from the Republican-inspired fuss over our too-early primary date.

So now I am enthusiastic and gratified that we are so far from being written off. Now the hard part comes in deciding what to attend. In case you find all 44 events unsatisfactory, you can join Dave Patlak in his event, which starts in South Beach at the South Point Piere at 5:30 p.m. on Friday July 4 (Time corrected). Dave will be trying to register new voters by trolling from one beach blanket to the next. He calls it Beach Blanket Bingo for Barack. Y'all come.

Sign up at

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Endorsements in the news: labor unions, Cuban-American leaders

Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo at a community candidates' forum Saturday -- empty chair for "no show" Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Chapter I: Labor endorsement

In Tuesday’s Miami Herald it’s revealed that Lincoln Diaz-Balart was not – repeat NOT – endorsed by some of the labor unions that once endorsed him. Also it’s revealed that the Republican representing Florida’s 21st District sorta fibbed in a news release claiming that he had been endorsed by those unions. Ooops. The Democratic challenger, Raul Martinez, asks for an apology.

And let’s be clear about the wider issue of labor endorsements. The three Democratic challengers for Congress – Raul Martinez, Joe Garcia (FL-25) and Annette Taddeo (FL-18) – are endorsed by the Florida AFL-CIO. Down with the Republican incumbents!

Way down in the Herald article is a reason why the unions reversed earlier backing of the Diaz-Balart brothers and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The three had committed to the Labor Free Choice Act, which makes it easier to form unions, and then they failed to support it in the House. This is what we call behavior of finks.

UPDATE: Click here to read the news release about the AFL-CIO endorsement of the three Democratic candidates.

Chapter II: Cuban American endorsement

Monday evening, a lively gathering at the cocktail hour at the waterfront villa of J.C. Mas and his wife Vivian de la Maza. It’s a fund-raiser for Joe Garcia, the last day of the reporting quarter, and this is a well-heeled and enthusiastic crowd for Garcia’s candidacy.

Host J.C. Mas, son of the late Jorge Mas Canosa, longtime head of the Cuban American National Foundation, introduces Joe Garcia (whom he’s known since college) by admitting that he has given to the Diaz-Balarts in the past but now he has to ask “whether I want them to represent me as a Cuban American.”

“Honestly, when you look at the fact that they only have one issue they can talk about, and they are not addressing this community or all the needs of this community, I think that is something that needs to change. I think they’ve had plenty of opportunities and plenty of time to make their impact, and their impact really is nonexistent.”

He went on to urge the crowd to support Joe Garcia – “a man of honor and of integrity and ultimately more talented to bring hope to our community and to assist us with the enormous needs in this diverse community.”

We’ll see if a few weeks how the campaigns of Joe Garcia, Raul Martinez and Annette Taddeo are faring in the fund-raising area for the second quarter. They out-raised the incumbents in the first quarter. Let’s hope that the fund-raising totals show continuing endorsement by both the well-off crowd and the smaller donors who turned out in droves early this year.

Chapter III: DCCC endorsement

And let’s not forget that the Democratic Party machinery is increasingly behind our challengers. Garcia and Martinez have been endorsed by the Red to Blue committee, an arm of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Annette Taddeo has been elevated to status of a promising candidate on that ranking. She also attended the Monday evening event in Coral Gables, and appeared with Joe Garcia Saturday at a community candidates' panel, where I snapped the photo at the top of this report.

And lest you think that all the above is in the local news media, Chapter II is not. It's my little exclusive from having been at the fund-raiser (my check is in the mail, Joe).