Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FL-21, FL-25: Good news for Martinez and Garcia campaigns

Here we are at five weeks to election day – meaning three weeks to start of early voting – and the momentum looks positive for the Raul Martinez and Joe Garcia challenges to the Diaz-Balart rubber-stamps.

Very proud, the Martinez campaign announced a promotion by one of the handicappers on Tuesday. No longer “lean Republican” to the Rothenberg Political Report, this race in FL-21 now is “Pure Toss-Up.”

The race's inclusion as one of only ten races in the country ranked as ‘Pure Toss-Up’ signifies that this race is more competitive than ever,” the Martinez campaign said.

That doesn’t make it easy. Incumbent Lincoln Diaz-Balart has run an ad about as sleazy as they come, and Raul Martinez is asking donors to help in the stretch to Election Day. You can see how Miami’s Channel 10 skewered the ad in a post a few days ago on this blog.

And at Joe Garcia’s shop – also contending with gross distortions from Mario Diaz-Balart’s ads – they’re announcing good news from another of the handicappers, Real Clear Politics, which is calling the race in FL-25 one of the most competitive House races in the country.

This race, according to the Rothenberg Political Report (linked above), is still in the “lean Republican” category. But there’s yet another piece of good news for Joe Garcia. Mario DB is polling below 50%, which is a classic sign of trouble for incumbent members of Congress. If I recall correctly, this has been true for several months, so the incumbent has not done himself any good with his crummy ads (also linked in the same post as for Raul Martinez).

Here’s part of a statement from the Joe Garcia campaign:

A poll that was conducted by a non-partisan firm was recently released that shows Mario Diaz-Balart is only getting 45% support, and that Joe Garcia is polling within the margin of error. As you know, “polling under 50 percent generally spells trouble for incumbents.” [Rasmussen Reports, 9/22/2008].

This explains why MDB is running scared and has resorted to lying about Joe Garcia's record of fighting for Florida's families. The fact that a career politician like Mario Diaz-Balart is polling below 50% provides proof that South Florida is ready for a change. The poll also states that Joe Garcia's favorability is higher than Mario Diaz-Balart’s.

Don’t forget that Joe needs money, too.

Speaking of momentum, my favorite Congressional candidate, Annette Taddeo in FL-18 where I live, is advertising on radio and TV, so I expect her to start taking big bites out of incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Taddeo is getting help from the national Democratic Party establishment, having been promoted to the Red to Blue list of top Democratic challengers, and her internal polls have shown for months that the incumbent has meager support. Once voters see and hear the ads for Taddeo, they will realize there’s a powerful challenge and bid Ros-Lehtinen an unfond farewell.

Taddeo has been getting coverage in the Miami Herald and in the Florida Keys, so the word is getting out. Now it’s time to step on the gas, and that’s what the campaign is doing. You can pitch in with money and time. Sign up at Annette2008.com.

Blame the rich for the subprime crisis

Thanks to Joy Reid for the tip on this one.

Do we remember how Eliot Spitzer was found out? Oh, yeah, his bank turned him in. Finally, herein, a possible reason. And why the poor and minorities should not be blamed for the subprime crisis.

Some say we don't have a subprime mortgage crisis. It's a subprime economy crisis.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout vote: Joe Garcia would have voted yes, Raul Martinez and Annette Taddeo no

An interesting split among our three Democratic challengers for the U.S. House in South Florida.

For starters, all three Republican rubber-stamp incumbents voted no on the bailout bill, which failed with both parties split bigtime. The vote was 228-205. Voting no were 133 Republicans and 95 Democrats. Yes were 140 Democrats and 65 Republicans.

UPDATE: Let's pause and read what the Obama campaign said about this trainwreck:

“This is a moment of national crisis, and today’s inaction in Congress as well as the angry and hyper-partisan statement released by the McCain campaign are exactly why the American people are disgusted with Washington. Now is the time for Democrats and Republicans to join together and act in a way that prevents an economic catastrophe. Every American should be outraged that an era of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and Washington has led us to this point, but now that we are here, the stability of our entire economy depends on us taking immediate action to ease this crisis,” said Obama-Biden campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

Both Annette Taddeo, challenging Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in FL-18, and Raul Martinez, challenging Lincoln Diaz-Balart in FL-21, issued statements before the vote saying they opposed the bill before Congress.

Joe Garcia, running against Mario Diaz-Balart in FL-25, told this blogger he was reluctantly in favor of the bill that failed.

“I thought it was a bad bill but I would have voted for it. I think there will be a better bill when it comes back,” he said.

“The Democrats did the hard thing, and we’re going to get nailed for it.” Asked about the many Democrats who voted against the bill, he said, “They’re scared. They didn’t create this, and are asked to pay for it.”

Again, on all the Republican no votes, Garcia said, “They’re not willing to pay for the mess they created. They broke it but are not willing to buy it.”

Garcia noted that all three Republican incumbents in South Florida voted against the bill, and called it a failure of leadership. The real estate crunch was evident in South Florida months ago, he said. “But the Republicans hid and took the easy route.”

Annette Taddeo’s statement was featured on DailyKos Monday morning and I quote it here.

MIAMI, FL – Annette Taddeo, candidate for Congress in Florida's 18th district, this morning released the following statement expressing opposition to the bailout legislation moving through Congress:

"We must protect homeowners and taxpayers. This bill fails to address the collapsing housing market, the root cause of the crisis. I do not support spending $700 billion in taxpayer money on a flawed bill. I call on Democrats in Congress and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to draft legislation that protects the people and families of South Florida."

"While the proposed bill is a start, it is not complete until homeowners and taxpayers are protected, and there are mechanisms in place to assure proper oversight so this does not happen again."

"As a small-businesswoman and Past-Chair of the Coalition of Greater Miami-Dade Chambers of Commerce, I know what our economy needs to right itself. Congress should send President Bush a bill that includes real protections for homeowners and taxpayers."

Raul Martinez issued this statement:

"The Diaz-Balart/Bush economic policies have failed and the country is worse off. The same people who rushed us to war in Iraq and rushed us into a stimulus bill that has not worked are trying to rush us into another bad idea.

"The proposed ‘bailout’ by the Bush Administration to be voted on today in Congress does not do enough to ensure that the middle class, the people who are truly being hit hard by tough economic times, will be sufficiently helped by this legislation. Hard-working South Floridians, many who are struggling to escape home foreclosure, have not received enough support from Congress to help them stay in their homes. The mortgage crisis is the root cause of this problem and it has not been addressed sufficiently.

"Any bailout should be directly targeted at homeowners, have strict accountability, conflict-of-interest, regulatory and oversight rules attached, including a hard cap on executive compensation and stock warrants for the rescuing taxpayers."

"The Bush Administration is seeking an unprecedented power grab to address the mess that they created. The Treasury Secretary would be largely unrestricted in his ability to spend $700 billion of taxpayer money at a cost of about $2,300 to every man, woman and child in America."

Mayor Martinez proposed the following suggestions:
• Work directly with people that were affected and lost their homes. Not with people that committed fraud, but individuals that got swept into the craze of owning their own home.
• Prevent more foreclosures by negotiating with owners and banks to buy those loans at a discount (the actual value of their homes).
• Require that the net gain of any sale or transfer of the property within the next 10 years, for those homeowners who are being helped, be shared with the government 50/50.
• Create public works jobs so these people will be able to pay for their mortgages.
• Place a cap on the amount of the mortgage.
• Only those people who live on the property will be allowed to participate (Homesteaded properties only).
• Interest rate for new loans will have to carry a low interest rate of about 4-5%.
• People that need to refinance to avoid problems in the future can participate.
• Homes that have been foreclosed could be bought by a first time homebuyer who can participate in the program. Also, any new buyer could obtain a property as long as a new appraisal is done.
• Do away with predatory lending.
• Bring back tight regulations for banks and investment houses
• Regulate hedge funds to make sure that the leverage financing is controlled.
• Stop short selling in the stock market.
• Prohibit speculation on oil.

For the record, your blogger was somewhere around Joe Garcia’s position. I figured the bill was flawed (aren’t all bills flawed?) but was pretty well convinced that something had to be done. What, exactly? That question is above my pay grade.

Dow down 600 ...

I was watching MSNBC while the House started its vote, and there were the totals on the screen showing the Nays solidly ahead of the Yeas , and they’re not finished voting. Their correspondent said something like, “I’m sure that they’re watching CNBC or some other financial service in the conference rooms while this is going on.”

So I switched over to CNBC and heard their commentators exclaiming at how the “market” was voting against this “bailout plan.” Yikes, Dow down 600! This was at about 1:45pm EDT.

One of the CNBC voices tried to calm his colleagues, but they kept running on about how the disaster was unfolding.

Well, the vote is continuing, and they can change their votes. And it’s too early to kiss the Republic farewell.

If it continues like this, I guess the future won’t be socialism.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

DailyKos features Annette Taddeo, Joe Garcia in Act Blue donations appeal

This post up late Sunday on DailyKos, by Kos himself, urges all to donate to a handful of featured US House races across the country, including Annette Taddeo in FL-18 and Joe Garcia in FL-25.

Pop on over to DailyKos and plop down a few bucks, please.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ask Sarah Palin about this

This has been shown on MSNBC, and should be seen by everyone thinking of voting Republican.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Insane in the highest reaches of the republic

I was watching MSNBC after 9 p.m. and thought I’d never seen such strange stuff happening, especially when the fate of the republic purportedly was in the balance – its economy, anyway. It was wrapped up by (new) anchor Rachel Maddow talking with the NBC congressional correspondent, Mike Viqueira, who started his report by exclaiming, “What an insane day!”

As a retired AP foreign correspondent, I’ve been in some dramatic news situations myself, though not recently, so maybe standards have changed since I lived through Anwar Sadat’s sudden decision to visit Jerusalem in 1977, or the weird experience of sitting in the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv in 1991 and watching on CNN as Saddam Hussein fired Scud missiles at Tel Aviv and their fiery tracks were shown live heading for me. Or seeing Soviet citizens selling the belts off their jeans around the formerly invulnerable Berlin Wall on the eve of German unification in 1990.

There is insane stuff in the world of public events, and we have to keep our calm in the face of it.

(Now MSNBC is showing Sarah Palin’s pathetic attempt to make living in Alaska into foreign policy experience. Heck, I have a lot more of that.)

Anyway, then I turned over to the online NY Times and found the following two paragraphs on top of their 10 p.m. current sitrep:

WASHINGTON — The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end the financial crisis that has gripped the nation. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the Cabinet Room of the White House, urgent warnings from the president and pleas from a Treasury secretary who knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support.

“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” President Bush declared Thursday as he watched the $700 billion bailout package fall apart before his eyes, according to one person in the room.

So, hizzoner the President is worried that “this sucker could go down.” And the secretary of the treasury “knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support.”

I see what Mike Viqueira is talking about. Insane.

Anyway, as to the debate scheduled for Friday night. In the larger scheme of things, the debate is a peanut in comparison to the financial fate of the republic. But I do think that John McCain has no chance of making a contribution to fixing the financial crisis, so it may be good to lure him away from Washington and skewer him thoroughly in a debate.

SoFla House races plagued by false TV spots from Republicans

The Diaz-Balart brothers have won a race, of sorts. Their TV ads have won the quickest condemnation as FALSE I’ve ever seen.

I’d like to hear from other congressional races around the country. How fast have your local media managed to examine and produce condemnations of TV spots run by your Republican incumbents?

Not that I could say exactly how many days and hours it took our brilliant Miami ABC outlet, Channel 10, to pronounce these ads as false. I hadn’t even seen the spot running against Raul Martinez, the Democratic challenger against Lincoln Diaz-Balart in FL-21, and here’s the condemnation already. And it was maybe a week from when I saw the spot run by Mario Diaz-Balart against Democratic challenger Joe Garcia in FL-25 to when it had been exposed as false. In both cases, it was pretty fast, and highly commendable of Channel 10 to have acted openly and forthrightly against the two Republican representatives of the supposedly invulnerable Miami Cuban exile hard-liners.

Here’s what Channel 10 reported on the ad against Raul Martinez:

As Channel 10 said, some of the charges were sort of accurate, since Raul Martinez had a long run of legal troubles two decades ago – political prosecutions similar to what took former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman into prison on dubious charges. Siegelman has been freed, and we’d oh so like to have Karl Rove reveal his role in this affair but he refuses to testify before a House committee.

House, you say? That’s the body we’re trying to elect Raul Martinez, Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo to join and help set it right.

And thank you, Channel 10, for pointing out who’s the only convicted person in that story: Lincoln Diaz-Balart, convicted and fined $30,000 for taking excessive campaign contributions.

It should be noted that the prosecutor who launched against Raul Martinez, Dexter Lehtinen, is the husband of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who soon thereafter was elected to the U.S. House seat that Martinez had planned to run for. Talk about sleazy politics.

Now we turn to what Channel 10 has reported on the whoppers told by Mario Diaz-Balart’s campaign ad against Joe Garcia.

I remember my reaction to seeing this spot a few weekends ago. It was shown among the Sunday morning talk shows, and I erupted in wild guffaws to see it claim that Joe Garcia was some creature of Enron. What a wild-hare story!

Thanks again, Channel 10, for wrapping it up so neatly. False, False, False.

Where in our wonderful system of government and society are the sanctions for putting such crap on the public airwaves?

While we’re thinking about these South Florida congressional races, anyone for a debate? Not if you’re a Republican. They have ducked and dodged, set some dates and then demurred, making the media mad and frustrating their Democratic opponents.

It behooves us to donate to the challengers, because they’ll need more money to run ads themselves to get their names before the public. Annette Taddeo, running against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in FL-18, has her first TV spot now running, and there must be more to help voters realize there’s a strong challenge to the FL-18 incumbent.

So please unhinge your Act Blue or other political donation mechanism, and give to Annette Taddeo, Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez.

Voter registration deadline Oct. 6

OK, gang. This is time for the final push. Here's a little encouragement from our Florida campaign headquarters.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Live TV, sort of

Barack Obama said he was the one who started the ball rolling with
John McCain to solve the financial crisis. This shot is taken with my
iphone and sent directly to this blog via Blogger. Completed before he
fiNished speaking and so a bit like live on TV. If I could type really

Babies for Obama

Charmed by cute babies? Click on this link and see Barack Obama enjoy one of the good things about campaigning -- kissing babies.

And it happened right here in Miami-Dade.

Thanks to South Florida Daily Blog for pointing out this gem on DJ Frustration Photo blog.

Misinformation in the News About Voter I.D. Law

We are well advised to be cautious about voting rules in Florida. No doubt, the Republicans will try to inhibit the Democratic vote, and some in the media already seem to be helping intimidate people from voting.

This morning shortly after a friend forwarded me an email with misinformation saying people will not be permitted to vote if their driver license address doesn't match the voting rolls, in rolled an URGENT memo declaring the opposite.

So I'm just going to print the entire email from the Obama campaign, written by:

David Sullivan, Voter Protection Director for the Campaign for Change

Date: 9/24/08
RE: URGENT: Misinformation in the News About Voter I.D. Law (No Match, No Vote)

In recent days, many media outlets have reported incorrect information about Florida’s Voter Registration Verification Law as the “No match, No vote” law.

This law does NOT require that the address on the I.D. that a voter presents at the polls match the voter’s address in the precinct register. This law covers the verification of identity when a citizen registers to vote – not when a registered voter goes to the polls to cast his/her ballot.

At the polls, a voter’s current photo I.D. is required and checked to confirm the voter’s identity only – NOT to verify the voter’s I.D. number or address.

The ‘No Match, No Vote’ nickname is misleading and should not be used further. Any registered voter who provides an acceptable form of photo I.D. will be able to vote.

The Florida Secretary of State issued a media advisory that definitively clarifies the law:

“This law does not keep any person with an unverified number from being able to vote.
This law is about verifying identity at the time of registration, so that when the voter goes to the polls the voter can vote a regular ballot, not a provisional ballot…

“I.D. required and checked at the polls is used solely to confirm the voter’s identity. Not to verify the voter’s ID number or address. The photograph on the ID is compared to the person standing before the poll worker and the signature on the ID is compared to the signature on record.” [Florida Department of State]

Florida Department of State
Kurt S. Browning
Secretary of State

Also, some facts about the law, again, from the Secretary of State's office:

This law IS NOT new. It became effective January 2006. It was in effect until December 2007 when a court first ordered the Department to stop the almost 2-year old process. That ruling was overturned on appeal. The law was re-implemented September 8, 2008.

  • The law is being implemented now because the court order denying the injunction became final in July. The implementation was delayed by pending litigation until June 2008, waiting for U.S. DOJ preclearance in July 2008, time needed to reprogram the system to automatically notice voters and set up revised procedures, and the time needed to prepare supervisors who were otherwise engaged in administering the 2008 Primary Election.
  • This law will not affect the status of already registered voters. The law will apply to all NEW applications received on or after September 8, 2008.
  • Obvious errors, including nicknames or typos will be resolved automatically.Every applicant must provide (if issued) a Florida driver’s license number, state identification card number or the last 4 digits of the social security number. The identification number is automatically cross-checked against the Florida driver’s license database (DHSMV) or the Social Security Administration database. If that number does not match, the Bureau of Voter Registration Services manually reviews for identifiable typographical errors or a difference between a nickname and formal name based on available records. If so, the applicant in placed on the active voter roll. If the number still cannot be matched, the applicant is notified to provide a photocopy of their identification by mail, by fax, or by e-mail; or the applicant may show their identification in person. If proof is provided before the election, the applicant becomes registered and the person is able to vote a regular ballot. If proof is not provided before the election, the person votes a provisional ballot. The person can provide proof up until the 2nd day after the election for the ballot to be counted in the election results.
  • This law does not keep any person with an unverified number from being able to vote. This law is about verifying identity at the time of registration, so that when the voter goes to the polls the voter can vote a regular ballot, not a provisional ballot.
  • This law IS NOT unconstitutional. It was first challenged in September 2007. NAACP and the Brennan Center obtained a preliminary injunction in December 2007. On appeal though, the court overturned the injunction in April 2008, finding no violation of federal law. In June 2008, the court rejected the groups’ second attempt to get another injunction, this time finding no violation of constitutional law. Neither NAACP or the Brennan Center appealed the order.
  • This law does not target specific groups. The U.S. Department of Justice reviewed the law in 2005, and after revisions to the law in 2007 and 2008, found that the law did not deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language minority group.
  • A provisional ballot is always counted when the voter is shown to be registered and eligible, regardless of the closeness of the outcome of the election. A person who votes provisionally simply because he or she forgot ID at the polls will not have to do anything else. If the signatures on that ballot certificate and the voter rolls match, the provisional ballot is counted.
  • I.D. required and checked at the polls is used solely to confirm the voter’s identity. Not to verify the voter’s ID number or address. The photograph on the ID is compared to the person standing before the poll worker and the signature on the ID is compared to the signature on record.
UPDATE: And here's one of the offending media reports: from the flagship newspaper in Florida, the Miami Herald, which had misinformation on its editorial page last Sunday. The editorial appears to have the good intention of arguing against discrimination against minorities, but it includes the erroneous sentence:

The no-match law applies when a person registers to vote as well as at the polls.

Again, the law does NOT apply at the polls.

It will be interesting to see if the Herald pulls back from this editorial -- and if it acknowledges that it may have scared some minority voters away from even approaching the polling place. That is, what will the seriously Republican editorial board of the Miami Herald have to say about the impact of this editorial on likely Democratic voters?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FL-25. The incumbent the social climber

This piece, from the Joe Garcia campaign cupboard of web ads, is stunning.

This reminds me somehow of Richard Nixon. Sorry, showing my age.

Gosh, what's going on all over the place?

Ya wonder, Florida was not supposed to be a paradise for Obama, but a while ago I was looking at MSNBC and they were showing an NBC poll showing Obama rising and leading 47-45. What's up? Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm! You see offices open all over, and they're brimming with people happy and energetic. Their creative juices are flowing.

This evening I was at the regular Tuesday phone bank at the North Beach office of our captain, Dan Jonas, and we had the usual diverse Democratic crowd -- I mean crowd! -- polishing off the many hundreds of calls in Miami Beach by well before the closing gong.

What else are we up to in North Beach? Organizing a giant early-voting music festival for Oct. 26. Fair warning: Save The Date: Sunday Oct. 26, Noon-6p.m., North Shore Band Shell, 7250 Collins Ave.. A New York rapper is signed up. A fabulous blues band is signed up. More to come. Early voting site two blocks away at 75th and Collins. This will set early voting up as the thing to do. If you're not voting by mail, of course.

People are creating things, doing things, all over. Here's one from my friends Jody Finver and Simon Rose. Capy the Dog is part of the performance.

That can be seen in Coconut Grove.

I have an email here from Gloria Pierce about the wonderful march held in the Miami area in recent days, though no one has yet sent a video or photo of it. Here's some of her narrative.

I went to the Coral Gables Women for Obama March today. Just about everyone carried a handmade sign and we were a very big group - I'm guessing 200-300 or so? We walked from the office on Miracle Mile to LeJeune and then over a block South and down the next street to where Publix is - then we went back to Miracle Mile and decided to walk further down and then finally back to the Obama office. It was exhilarating - we had so many people stop to photograph this amazing group of women of all ages, children and some men too. We were chanting, singing, marching and smiling and waving and cheering. People stopped to wave, thumbs up, honks for approval and well, and maybe I saw a total of 4 thumbs down and all the rest seemed thrilled to see us.

I would love to see this happen again in some other communities that do not get that much attention. I live in SW Miami Dade County and there isn't anything like that happening there. I'm hoping that maybe we can make something like that and let the people out here know that Obama supporters are everywhere and they can join us and walk for the future.

One more videographer surfaces: The Honk and Wave

This is the work of Jeff Reiter, done at one of our regular events.

Honk and Wave for Obama from Jeff Reiter on Vimeo.

Monday, September 22, 2008

First and last post on New Mexico politics

You have to be a pretty mature citizen to remember Udalls in national politics. Here's one of them coming again.

Candidate Annette Taddeo and US Rep Hilda Solis on the economy

Annette Taddeo, Democratic challenger in FL-18, and U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis, CA-32, address the economic crisis in remarks near downtown Miami. Building in background is offices of Foreclosure Relief System.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog report on this event.