Friday, October 31, 2008

"Nun" votes in North Beach

Hey, it's Halloween. You can expect unusual garb. In three hours at the North Shore Branch Library in Miami Beach, Collins Avenue at 75th, I only saw one voter in costume. She declined a slate card.

Earlier at least three genuine nuns went quietly in and gladly accepted Democratic Party slate cards.

Look at these Democrats! YouTube stars!

What could we do with a fancy studio and some camera skills? There's talent aplenty in our ranks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Danish volunteers are a hit in North Beach

This is Miami Beach, so we're used to seeing visitors here. But most times they don't pitch in and work like Superman/woman. This is the power of Barack Obama! Volunteers are flowing in from all over to add to our local energy, and the group above is from Denmark (except for the guy in the back, Mark Wilson, who's flown in from California for the final leg of the campaign; he's driving the Danes).

l-r: Amalie, Jeppe, Sara, Klaus, Christina (Mark in the back).

They had just piled into the North Beach for Obama HQ seeking a mission Thursday afternoon, and your blogger helped outfit them with two fat clipboards of canvassing lists. That was the umpteenth mission of their visit to Florida, and three hours later they were back with thorough results -- most being university students with political science or law on their curricula.

Also on Thursday I heard that a group from the Netherlands was in town helping canvass, also one from Norway. Don't forget Noelia Zanon, of Spain, who belted out song after song at our VoteFest '08 all-day music event on Sunday. There's a young man from Australia working on Annette Taddeo's campaign to unseat Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Congressional District 18.

And there's Andrea Liberati of Italy, who showed up months ago joining the Miami Beach Democratic Club and now is working practically full-time as a volunteer for Barack Obama. Back in August I was flying to Denver to blog the convention, and there sitting across the aisle was Andrea! He's writing a book on what it's like to explore the mysteries of Florida presidential campaigning and will be jetting home with his copious notes soon after Nov. 4.

All these people have been captivated by our political situation and our Democratic candidate. They look at us from abroad and are unencumbered by our inhibitions. They dislike George W. Bush and his policies intensely. Sort of like us. But none of their neighbors, relatives or friends voted for Bush, so they have no shyness when it comes to declaring their backing for Barack Obama.

And for those fools on the right-wing radio who say Europe is rife with anti-Americanism, have a chat with Maria Jensen, 20, studying law at the University of Copenhagen.

Why are you doing this?

"I like America. To come here and make a change and to help Obama win -- that was the motivation for me."

How has it been here in the Miami area?

"It's a big city, the people are very nice, it's a very diverse state. I like Florida."

Emil Dyred, leader of the group of 25 Danish young people, said their trip had been entirely self-arranged, though as members of the Danish Social Liberal Party (Det Radikale Venstre), they were in a sister organization of our Young Democrats. The party is centrist in Denmark's political landscape and not currently in the government. Dyred is studying political science and history at the University of Copenhagen.

Was there any negative reaction to foreigners' canvassing in Miami?

"No one mentioned that we are foreigners. People have been positive and welcoming."

Why did you come to Florida?

"Florida is a battleground state. We wanted to go somewhere we could make a difference. Plus it's quite warm here now compared to Denmark."

The North Beach squad of Danes canvassed relentlessly until falling back into the HQ about 6:30 p.m., famished and tired. What luck for them. We had postponed the usual Wednesday happy hour until Thursday, so we all trooped one block west to Cafe Prima Pasta and had a great time and tasty food along with inspirational speeches from our neighborhood Obama captain, Daniel E. Jonas, and Ann Horwich, jack'lin of all volunteer trades.

After the election the Danes will spend a few days each in Washington and New York before flying home.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

FL-25: Joe Garcia on offensive against smear machine

There is a pretty small vocabulary over there in the Diaz-Balart camp. Their favorite words are pathetic and ludicrous. That's when referring to us. This comes from their pretty small emotional range, which seems stuck on contempt. When referring to us. Now they're even using it on a veteran of the Iraq war, who was brave enough to declare alliance with us. And for his pains, he's branded pathetic by the Mario Diaz-Balart camp.

The Garcia camp is properly aroused and asks us all to pull out all stops to spread the word among District 25 voters. Read more about it on Daily Kos. And please take action. My email network is starting to hum.

Link to check on wait times to vote

Click on that Wednesday early afternoon and see, Great, wait times aren't so bad.

But why is it still taking four hours at the West Kendall Regional Library What's wrong at this spot?

(At first I read the wrong line and thought it was the West Dade Library with the problem. Sorry for the mistake and for pestering Michael Calderin, candidate for state representative in District 119, who was chatting with voters at that polling spot.)

Kudos to voters who endure these long waits!

Last chance for absentee ballot: today!

Tired of standing in line? Even with extended hours? Today, Wednesday Oct. 29, is the last day you can request to vote by mail for the Nov. 4 election.

And if you have already voted by mail, you can check the status of your ballot at this link on the Miami-Dade Elections website. I just checked mine, and am now satisfied that my ballot was received on Oct. 24 and that Barack Obama will be elected president. Those who are bathed in worry that their ballot has been stolen can receive at least some confirmation that the process works.

From today's Miami Herald (link below), this statistic:

Miami-Dade has mailed more than 174,000 absentee ballots and received 107,000 completed absentee ballots through Wednesday, according to the elections office website.

Wednesday is last day to request absentee ballot |

Sunday, October 26, 2008

VoteFest'08: Spencerairs perform at North Shore Bandshell

For some text, click on this link and see what John Hood wrote in the Miami SunPost.

Friday, October 24, 2008

FL-18: Wasserman Shultz in public endorsement of Annette Taddeo for US House; Closing difficult chapter?

l-r: Annette Taddeo, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Raul Martinez, Kendrick Meek, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Garcia.

This was a long time coming, and so quite choreographed. A rising star among Democratic congresswomen, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Florida District 20, stood on a stage in Little Havana Thursday and publicly endorsed the candidacy of the Democratic challenger to one of Wasserman Shultz’ friends in the House.

This is an observation and supposition I’m making without having interviewed her or knowing all the influences that brought her to this new point. I hope it means that she’s decided that Annette Taddeo, a successful businesswoman making her first foray into elective politics, is going to defeat the 19-year veteran, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, in District 18.

District 18 is where I live. I campaign some for Taddeo, whose half-Colombian, half-American background is perfect for this district that spans from Key West in the Florida Keys to Miami Beach and a good bulge of Little Havana and downtown Miami on the mainland. The district is majority Hispanic but not quite as Cuban as before, so Ros-Lehtinen, who’s Cuban American, is fighting hard with a mass of TV ads that fail to mention her links to neo-con misleaders and play up her “service” to the district.

As I try to persuade some brilliantly intelligent people to vote for Taddeo, they often reveal themselves as having been conned by Ros-Lehtinen’s supposed “service.” They ignore or are unaware of her repeated votes for the Iraq war, for torture, against the expansion of children’s health insurance. Hardly anyone seems aware of her hardline position on Iran, and they profess to admire her ability to get the Miami River dredged. (Big deal – some say it’s the shortest river in the USA, at 4 miles. Though it certainly needed dredging. Took forever. Anyway…) Once in a while they can change their minds after hearing her voting record. More have been swayed by her saccharine manner, and if they go to her office in Washington, they get such a nice cup of coffee.

It’s disgusting what dupes we are. How so many of us agree to be bribed by federal dollars. How we vote against our interests. I know, this behavior has been analyzed to hell and gone, and Americans are well established as having a tendency to let their vote be swayed by vague feelings of patriotism or by which candidate presents as a good social pal. Not that we’d ever get close to the snob. But we’ll take our emotional leaning as somehow related to attaining the American Dream, and we throw away our chance to vote for someone who has a solid and intelligent view of our situation. Well, I’m thinking of good old wooden Al Gore there, but he’s not a very good example, since he really won.

Let’s get back to what’s publicly known about Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her many months of reluctance to get on the side of Annette Taddeo and her two fellow strong Democratic challengers, Joe Garcia against Mario Diaz-Balart in District 25 (the outer suburbs and the Everglades) and Raul Martinez against Lincoln Diaz-Balart in District 21 (inner suburbs of Miami).

This came into the public eye in March, started by the Miami Herald’s featuring it on the front page. This blog picked that up pretty quickly (first post on March 9) and the story ran repeatedly on Daily Kos and elsewhere in the blogosphere. Wasserman Schultz was regularly creamed for not using her position of influence in the DCCC – Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – to help the Democrats challenging in her neighboring districts.

At one point I was quietly happy about it, because it got Taddeo, Garcia and Martinez much more publicity locally and nationally than the little-known challengers had two years earlier. I know that too well, as I was nominal campaign manager for Dave Patlak, who didn’t quite get 40 percent against Ros-Lehtinen in the 2006 midterm election. We made her spend over $1 million – so there was some satisfaction for that.

What was Wasserman Schultz’ justification this year? Best guess was some collegial loyalty among fellow members of the U.S. House. They were all in the business of promoting federal bucks for South Florida and had to act together. There may have been some socializing. She told a skeptical audience once that it was a difficult balance. Not convincing. Many of us walked out because she came down on the wrong side of that teeter-totter. A report from March 21 at this link.

This affair caused me to think a lot about our political predicament. And it’s not just South Florida. This is all over our beloved country: the invulnerable incumbent. Their districts are so gerrymandered that they worry little about re-election. Wasserman Schultz and her Democratic colleague, Kendrick Meek of District 17, do not even get Republican opponents. Their districts are 70-percent safe Democratic.

They don’t benefit from the American tonic of competition. (Remedy: there’s a petition circulating to amend the Florida state constitution to ban political considerations in laying new district boundaries. This must be a priority after this election.)

If the two Democrats are invulnerable, the three Republican incumbents have less of a built-in advantage nowadays, though they started out with more solidly Republican districts. Demographic changes have put them in danger, and their three challengers, with strong campaign staffs and decent financing, are evidence that all three Republicans are seen as vulnerable, like their fellows most everywhere in the last months of George W. Bush.

Yet it still took forever for Wasserman Schultz to be more open in backing first Martinez, then Garcia and finally Taddeo. She wasted a lot of time being unnecessarily tenacious in backing Hillary Clinton. Then she spoke in favor of Taddeo at a meeting of Florida delegates at the Denver convention, where she somehow also cadged a slot to second Barack Obama’s nomination. Now it’s the last lap before election day, early voting is already under way, and finally Wasserman Schultz is in public at home in Florida before the TV cameras. And not alone.

Before I name her companions, here’s the quote:

“We need to make sure that we have leaders in the Congress who will stand up and be your voice. To make sure that the middle class ... that they have members of Congress who are in Washington fighting for them. And these three candidates, Raul Martinez, Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo, are the people that we need to elect so that we can make sure that they do that…

“This is the most important election of our lives. We are at a turning point in the United States of America. The wealthy have had their leaders in Washington. The wealthy have been taken care of for a long time. It is time to elect these three candidates to Congress so that we can have a voice for people who have not had one for a very long time.”

You can see from her words that all three Democratic challengers were in the room with her, Annette Taddeo, Raul Martinez and Joe Garcia, along with Rep. Kendrick Meek. The star in the room was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who for months has been trooping to South Florida doing fund-raisers for Garcia and Martinez. This was her first for Taddeo, I believe, and she also did fundraisers for Garcia and Martinez during a busy day.

Taddeo stood beside Wasserman Schultz and served as interpreter for the largely Cuban audience in the Little Havana Center for Activities and Nutrition, a senior center. Joe Garcia handled interpretation duty for Nancy Pelosi, who gave ringing endorsements of all three Democratic challengers, touting Taddeo’s strong business background, Garcia’s work in community organizing and Martinez for his long public service as mayor of Hialeah.

It’s time to say Thank You, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz. I fervently hope you’re right in guessing that Annette Taddeo is going to win.

One last question, though. Those ads that the DCCC is running on TV here … the ones that criticize the Diaz-Balart brothers for their rotten votes in Congress. Why don’t they also mention Ileana Ros-Lehtinen? After all, she voted the same way as the rubber-stamp brothers. The ads run in the very same TV market that serves potential voters for Annette Taddeo. You’re a big wheel in the DCCC. Why, O why, don’t the ads also mention the third rubber-stamper, and maybe give your fellow Democrat a little boost? Why?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

FL-21, FL-25: Miami New Times writes off the Diaz-Balart brothers

Here's a long and good read about victory around the corner for Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez, and oblivion for the Diaz-Balart slime machine and the two brothers who dishonor their elected office in the U.S. House of Representatives.

See the post just before this for one of the examples of dirty politics the brothers practice -- a TV ad intended to boost the fortunes of Mario Diaz-Balart. But Mario, how are you going to explain this at the Pearly Gates? What about the Commandment to Bear No False Witness? His elder brother Lincoln Diaz-Balart has been almost as bad in his noir TV ads against Raul Martinez.

Thanks goodness that the Miami New Times has seen its way through all that crap to write that this year is the "end of the dynasty" for the Diaz-Balarts. Would that the Miami Herald had been equally perceptive.

Anyway, please make a cup of coffee and sit down for a lengthy read through the thinking that will put at least two more Democrats in the U.S. House from South Florida.

Disgusting TV ad from the slime machine of Mario Diaz-Balart

This could be the worst ever. Ripping headlines from nowhere and trying to make a case against Joe Garcia.

Joe's campaign rightly calls for help to combat this travesty of politics. Join up at or at ActBlue.

Adopt five people and get them to vote

In case you're living in a cave and not receiving Obama campaign emails, here's one of their better ideas.

Adopt five people and encourage them to vote for Obama.

And make sure you click through to this link and read the one simple page enumerating five types of people who should be voting in greater numbers.

You know some of them. You know five of them. Ask them if they're voting early. Ask them until they give up and do it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 1 of Early Voting: Needs work

I thought to do a post on early voting to feature the statistics from the first day. But, funny, early voting statistics are “coming soon,” it says on the Miami-Dade Elections Department site. Wonder why? Answer: pretty chaotic out there, right? People complaining of three or four hours waiting to vote – and this is still just early voting!?!

Before ripping into our election leaders, let’s pause for some statistics that are available: Absentee ballots. Yes, there are up-to-date statistics on this part of our method of voting. The Elections Department mailed out 144,515 ballots to people from Miami-Dade County, and as of Monday, 50,450 had been received back at Elections Department. That’s about a third already in the bank. Now, where are the rest of yous’ ballots?

You can check whether the ballot you put in the mail has been received at this web address:

Much of my day Monday was spent looking at TV news programs showing unpleasant scenes around the county and adjoining Broward with people in long waits to vote. Everywhere, people are wilting out in the boiling sun. I also got a phoned report of people getting soaked in the rain around midday at West Kendall Library. (Thank you, Michael Calderin.)

Why are we forced to hang out in these primitive conditions in order to vote? Roofs were invented long long ago specifically to protect elderly Floridians from the elements. We have roofs all over the place. Why don’t we vote there?

Beyond that, let’s be a little suspicious that quite a few of the problem areas with long lines were in Democratic-leaning areas such as Liberty City, where the voting site at the Caleb Center, the Model City Library, had dozens of people peeling off from an interminable wait; also at West Kendall, and Miami Beach City Hall.

I peeked at the early voting site near my North Beach home, the North Shore Branch Library on Collins Avenue at 75th Street on Miami Beach, and it was pretty calm about 9 a.m., with a dozen people waiting outside the building. There had been some modest problems getting started at 7 a.m., but not really a big deal.

It seemed to take 20 minutes or so for one person to vote. So let’s say 800,000 of our 1,243,315 registered voters actually go to do their civic duty. There’s 16 million minutes of voting behavior there, in Miami-Dade County alone. Awesome.

And what do people get at the end of that massive effort? Not confirmation of how they voted, but a note on the screen saying Thank You.

That, at any rate, was the dumbfounding impression reported by one of the first people to vote, Dave Doebler, who spent the night camped out at Miami Beach City Hall with his girlfriend, Dara Schoenwald, so they could be first to vote for Barack Obama.

They were so looking forward to a feeling of completion but the process did not include it.

“My problem is I don’t know what the machine interpreted. It’s a flawed process. There is a paper trail, and they can do a recount. But I have a real problem with no confirmation of how I voted,” Doebler said.

The previous system, the touch-screen voting method, didn’t have a paper trail, but at the end of the process, the screen showed how you had voted on each question, and if you were satisfied, you pushed the button to record the vote. Now you just get Thank You.

Doebler enumerated other issues. Some were mechanical, such as machines not being ready when the poll opened at 7 a.m. The script was rather small and he expected some elderly people with vision problems to find it difficult. (Remember the misaligned butterfly ballot in Palm Beach?) Then the two-page ballot also posed a problem, because when the voter feeds a completed page into the scanner, the machine prompts you to touch the Finish button. Ooops! If you haven’t fed both pages in, you’ll be starting over. That happened to one of Doebler’s friends.

His bottom line: “Nov. 4 is going to be a nightmare. People have to vote early. If they vote on election day, they might as well take the day off.”

Not all agreed. A voter getting into his car after voting at the North Shore Library said it all had gone smoothly and he had no complaints.

Here’s a link to the Miami Herald’s roundup of early voting: more machines being added, the election supervisor “explaining” that it’s a presidential year and people have to be patient. Oh, yeah? This sounds like a definition of bad government.

Monday, October 20, 2008

FL-18: Annette Taddeo campaigns with big sign

Annette Taddeo with a supporter and TV reporter in front of giant sign on wheels.

My favorite congressional candidate, Annette Taddeo, campaigned Sunday evening with a lively party at Kaffe Krystal in Kendall. At the end, clipboards were passed around and quite a few people signed up to be Taddeo Troopers -- volunteers for the final push to election day.

Regular readers will know that I live in FL-18, which Taddeo is fighting to wrest from the rubber-stamp Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. If you, too, live in FL-18, look for this sign being towed around your neighborhood.

The Obama campaign chimed in for Annette today, sending an email to some of us in District 18 urging that we help her campaign.

The email said:
You can change politics in this country at every level -- up and down the ballot.

Our records show that you live in Florida's 18th district.

There's a candidate in Florida who's working to bring the change this country needs, and that candidate is Annette Taddeo. Get involved and help bring change now.

Annette Taddeo for Congress:
Visit the website

Don't wait until Election Day to support Taddeo. Get involved today to make sure Florida has a strong representative to take our country in a new direction.


Obama for America

P.S. -- To get involved with Obama for America in your community, visit your state page:

This teamwork is great!

FL-25: A Diaz-Balart raver catches TV attention

Hey, Mario, you forgot to take your pills.

Narration by Michael Putney, senior reporter for ABC Channel 10 in Miami.

Now I wonder if the editorial board over at the Miami Herald might reconsider their failure to endorse our calm and collected Joe Garcia for the US House in District 25.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Team Obama in South Beach has mascots

Alvaro Concha exercises his lively dogs on Lincoln Road Mall every
evening -- a brilliant addition to the dynamic human crowd working
like dogs to turn out the vote for Barack Obama.

Joe Garcia debates the rubber-stamp 10 a.m. Sunday on Univision

Message from the Joe Garcia campaign:

I want you to tune in tomorrow morning to the final debate between Joe Garcia and Mario Diaz-Balart and encourage your friends and family to watch as well.

Here are the details:
Sunday, October 19 at 10 AM
Univision 'Al Punto' with Jorge Ramos
(A version with English subtitles will be available online shortly after)

The differences in this election are clear:
  • Joe Garcia will fight for economic relief for families and small businesses -- Mario Diaz-Balart will give billions in tax give-aways to the big oil companies that fund his campaign.
  • Joe Garcia has a plan to make healthcare more affordable and accessible -- Mario Diaz-Balart wants to deregulate insurance companies and do to healthcare what he and George W. Bush have done to Wall Street.
  • Joe Garcia will bring a safe and responsible end to the Iraq War -- Mario Diaz-Balart will vote to prolong it.
The truth will win. Gotta listen to know the truth.

First votes for Obama will come after camping out at polling place

A guest blogger reports:

Dara Schoenwald and Dave Doebler lend new meaning to the phrase "opposites attract." Schoenwald, 32, is petite, red-headed cultural anthropologist for an advertising agency. Among her passions are outdoor music festivals, dancing barefoot, and participating in the emerging local arts scene. Doebler, 36, is a 6-foot-3 software sales executive. He enjoys reading, barbecueing, and rare, fine wines.

However, Schoenwald and Doebler agree on their pick for the upcoming presidential election. In fact, the couple has made a pact to camp outside the steps of the Miami Beach City Hall Sunday night Oct. 19, in hopes that they will be the first Floridians to cast their votes for Obama, when the early voting polls open on 7a.m. Monday.

"I don't want to wait until November 4th," says Doebler. "By voting early, we get to beat the long lines. Also, we are already taking Election Day off from work to volunteer by driving people to the polls. We are very excited to be the first ones in Florida to pull the lever for Senator Obama."

Schoenwald credits the Obama campaign for producing a groundswell of support in South Florida, especially among young people. "I believe in Obama's message of change for our country." says Schoenwald. "No other presidential election has excited me as much as this one. After eight years of Bush in the White House, I think South Florida is ready for a switch to more progressive and informed governance."

Among the items that Schoenwald and Doebler plan to pack for their overnight stay: a sturdy tent, a sleeping bag for two, bug spray, and their iPods, which will feature official campaign music "Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement."

Miami Beach residents are encouraged to join the couple, in order to demonstrate community support and unity for this groundbreaking presidential election. To participate, contact Dara Schoenwald at

Friday, October 17, 2008

Spanish Star Noelia Zanon Joins VoteFest08 Musical Lineup

Noelia Zanon.

North Beach volunteers Dan Jessup, Evelyn Sussman and Ann Horwich inspecting the North Shore Bandshell.

Spanish singing star Noelia Zanon is joining our sizzling lineup of performers for VoteFest08 – sponsored by the Miami-Dade Democratic Party to promote early voting on Sunday, Oct. 26.

Registered voters from anywhere in Miami-Dade County are invited to the North Shore Bandshell on Miami Beach. Music starts at 12 noon on Oct. 26 in the Art Deco bandshell on Collins Avenue at 73rd Street. Two blocks away is the early voting site at the North Shore Library, and teen-corps volunteers will be on hand to escort people to the polling place.

The sensational Noelia Zanon has been touring in the United States to stir up Hispanic voters for the Democrats -- most recently in Georgia. Putting the Miami Beach event on her schedule is a tremendous addition to the already big lineup of local talent -- unprecedented in recent Miami memory.

Also new on the performing roster is a terrific gospel group, The Spencerairs. Among the other live acts will be DJ Le Spam, Guajiro, Miami folk musician Jesse Jackson, bluesman Albert Castiglia and his band, Here II Here, Marivana, The Gardis, Miami Rock Ensemble, Javier Garcia, Maguinha, Tereso, Urban Fruit and We Live in Houses.

Early voting on Sunday, Oct. 26 begins at 1 p.m. and ends at 5 p.m. The music starts at noon and continues until 8 p.m. For more information, check the Facebook event site or the new website

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Earth to McCain: The answer is zero

This was the moment I'm remembering from tonight's debate: When Barack Obama left John McCain with his mouth hanging open.

Obama had answered this question in the previous debate also, though McCain, with his hearing even worse than mine, hadn't heard the answer. Of course, Obama had disguised it a little by saying he'd exempt small businesses from the requirement. McCain, with his brainpower even worse than mine, hadn't understood that exemption meant no fine, zero. Now he knows, and sooner or later he'll snap his mouth shut.

Now, a little report on a moment I'll remember from before the debate. Walking along Lincoln Road Mall in South Beach, one of the cooler places on the planet, I was heading for Gemma Lounge to watch the debate with a cool clutch of Obama supporters. I was a block away from Gemma when a jerk sitting at one of the cafe tables noticed my T-shirt with "I Blog for Obama" written on it. "McCain!" he yelled out. I turned, saw this bulky guy about 30 years younger than me, and opened my arms and said with a smile, "Your privilege." His response was to yell "Traitor!" at me.

So I took it a little personally when in the debate John McCain said "categorically, I'm proud of the people that come to our rallies."

There are way too many violent types among them, too many in this country who do not know the relation between words and action, words and instigation. They might take instruction, though, if their hero would say, Boys, you girls too, in fact, maybe especially you women, You ought to think before you speak.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Orientation for new members of Miami-Dade Democrats

Your blogger was at one of a series of orientation meetings for new members of the Democratic Executive Committee, or DEC. Remember? There was an election Aug. 29 along with the primary, and Miami-Dade Democrats have a new roster of precinct committeemen and committeewomen, and quite a few are new to party activism and leadership.

This event on Monday was at Betty's Burgers on US 1 at 104th Street, so we all had something to eat while learning about the draft slate, the rules for early and absentee voting, who's up for election, what the Florida Secretary of State says about ID at the polls, where all the campaign offices are, and WHAT TO DO!

Chairman Bret Berlin packed a lot of info into a one-cheeseburger meeting, and everybody went home chanting

About 35 were in attendance, and they all had a minute or so to say what had caused them to get up off the couch and volunteer for election. "I got an email," said one person, then another, and another, and another, and down the line. It was quite a testimony to the power of the email ask.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Meet a new voter who's for Obama

You hear these stories about the newly registered voter who’s not going to vote. Or those who don’t pay attention. Or they don’t feel up to the challenges of our democracy.

So it was good to meet Martha Lozano, an immigrant from Colombia some years ago who only became a U.S. citizen last year, and now she’s about as eager to vote as a person can be.

How so? Well, she started off leaning toward the Republicans because that’s what her husband was, but at some point she began to think she should know about the candidates herself.

“I began to listen to them. I like Mr. Obama’s attitude toward immigrants. And I like that he belongs to a minority group, like me.”

She finds the Republicans too old-fashioned on some issues like gay marriage.

“Mr. Obama is better on health care, and on foreign policy, also on how to improve the economy. He’s a smart person with an open mind.”

Does she worry about the rumors? They’re not effective with her. “All human beings make mistakes.”

She watches the debates, and the news on TV. Now she’s off to help a friend find early-voting sites in Palm Beach County.

Welcome, New Voter Martha Lozano!

FL-18: Another reason to reject the incumbent and vote for Annette Taddeo

Michael Froomkin has posted on his superb blog,, a denunciation of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Florida Republican Party for the slimy mailer going out to Congressional District 18. It accuses us Democrats of surrendering to terrorists -- what else do they have in their bag of dirty Republican tricks?!?

There's an image of the mailer at the link above to, and I'll encourage traffic thataway by not showing the rotten thing on this blog.

Though I also live in FL-18, this mailer hasn't hit me yet. But my dining table is starting to groan under the weight of the lies rolling in from Ros-Lehtinen's campaign. This weekend came one extolling her for "helping middle class home owners, improve our health care system, invest in alternative and efficient energy sources and facilitate an affordable college education for our youth." All the stuff she doesn't do.

And there's a photo of her with her family and the slogan, "Together we will make the necessary changes."

Y'all catch the "changes" that she's asserting? Beware, there's no mention of retiring her rubber stamp.

By contrast, mailers from Annette Taddeo are factual and persuasive. I can only hope that people have their minds open as they decide how to vote.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Shocking: Gas prices collapse

How many months ago was it when we were shocked at gasoline prices bouncing well above $4 a gallon? I think it was June or so. I took a long road trip in July, over 5,000 miles, and spent $800 on gas.

Now we're in a national if not global financial crisis, and gas prices are plummeting. Down like the Dow is down. A few days ago a friend exclaimed that she'd just paid $3.70 a gallon, and there we were passing a station with gas at $3.49. Ripped off for two bucks!

So, today what did I do when I saw gas a hair under $3.10 a gallon? I looped back around, stopped and took a photo of the sign, and took on a half-tank of unleaded regular. This was in Key Largo at the Liberty station. Later I saw the same price at a station on Palm Drive in Florida City. More typical was $3.19.

Excuse me, where is supply and demand in this gyration? We need to stop spouting this garbage about supply and demand ruling our prices. There may be suspicions that future changes in real supply and real demand may cause some difference in prices, but the prices went to the sky because of a frenzy of greed among those with the power to raise prices. Now the prices are coming down because those people sense the mobs with pitchforks around the corner.

Try this argument sometime with the person who tells you that he had to raise the price you pay because of inflation. No, inflation is what comes from individuals deciding to raise prices -- or to pay higher prices to their suppliers. It's zillions of those individual decisions that cause inflation. Prices don't go up on their own. This is one of the problems we have with our capitalism. We regard its outward effects as immutable as dogma. We think the effects stem from heavenly rules, and meekly bow down and submit.

Sorry, supply and demand is a theory.

Friday, October 10, 2008

FL-18: Annette Taddeo instructs incumbent on Social Security

This was a telling moment in this week's forum for congressional candidates. The question was about the future of Social Security. Democratic challenger Annette Taddeo defended it with passion and logic. Then incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen hopped up and asked the audience if they were happy with their return from Social Security.


How out of touch can she be? This was on a day when the stock market tanked after tanking the day before. Big headlines. No hint that Ros-Lehtinen saw the foot heading for her mouth, even though it was hers.

One of Annette Taddeo's top qualifications for Congress is that she's not a politician, but rather a successful owner of a thriving business providing language services. More of her sort of expertise is badly needed in the U.S. House, and out with the unthinking rubber-stamps who need to look at their scripts to know what to say.

Vote for Joe Garcia -- now!

There's a poll on Daily Kos where you can vote for Joe Garcia. Check it out.

DailyKos takes up donation drive for Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo

George W. Bush is such a recruiter for Democratic victory. He's coming to Miami today to raise money for his rubber-stamp party, and this inspires the blogosphere to start opening their wallets for two of our superb congressional candidates, Annette Taddeo in FL-18 and Joe Garcia in FL-25.

Here's the post on DailyKos, by Kos himself, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, with its special link to the ActBlue donation site.

These two fine candidates are no strangers to Markos, as they attended the Netroots Nation convention in Austin back in mid-July and were repeated stars of the national progressive crowd there.

If you've been waiting for an excuse to donate again -- surely you've donated repeatedly to them, right? -- this is a great moment to reply to W and help Garcia and Taddeo.

Last night I was at an Obama fundraiser on Miami Beach, where one of the guests said that Barack Obama should say at his inauguration in January that he owes his election to one man. Who. I wondered? "President Bush," was the answer.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Congressional candidates finally talk; Dems are superb

I haven’t heard Dave Patlak so revved-up since he was just back from Camp Obama.

“I’ve finally realized my dream!” he shouted down the phone.

What was it? A “debate forum” that brought together the three rubber-stamp Republican members of Congress from South Florida with their Democratic challengers. The format was so restricted that the designated moderator, Michael Putney of ABC Channel 10, withdrew and wrote in Wednesday’s Miami Herald that it “promises to be little more than a dumb show – a play done in pantomime, Kabuki theater.”

Someone among the candidates – no one would confess to it – had demanded that the sponsoring Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce reveal the questions beforehand, otherwise no show. Putney said he suspected one of the Republican campaigns for making the demand.

So there was a certain “canned” atmosphere, but the encounter itself was enough to give Dave Patlak chills down his spine, since when he ran for the District 18 seat in 2006, incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wouldn’t even touch the idea of a debate with a 10-foot pole. Now Democratic challenger Annette Taddeo is running a powerful and well-financed campaign against Ros-Lehtinen, and Patlak said she spoke with wonderful heart and directly demanded that Ros-Lehtinen explain her votes against expanding children’s health insurance.

And Patlak had ringing praise for Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez, who are challenging the Diaz-Balart brothers in Districts 25 and 21, respectively. Patlak said Joe Garcia was “presidential” in his remarks against Mario Diaz-Balart and Martinez was “dominating” against Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

Alas, no one took the trouble to spread the word that the forum was being broadcast live on, so it could have been watched as it was under way. Channel 6 assures me that it’s being processed and uploaded, and should be available Wednesday evening on their archives website.

The Diaz-Balarts, Patlak reported, repeatedly tried to joke their way out of tough corners, and Ros-Lehtinen pranced around like a cheerleader to disguise her weak positions. I hope for more detail from Dave later, amid his constant work on the Obama campaign – he was off to deliver yard signs.

Meanwhile, here’s some word from Joe Garcia about a forum where he and Mario Diaz-Balart appeared earlier this week.

Not once did he offer a plan as to how we're going to get our economy moving again. He also never spoke about how we're going to make health care more affordable for the 1 out of 3 people in South Florida that don't have any.

Here's what he did do: He lied, attacked me, played partisan politics and made jokes.

There's nothing funny about thousands of struggling middle-class families losing their homes, or teachers getting laid off in places like Kendall and West Miami-Dade. The fact that Mario Diaz-Balart has voted over 90% of the time with the failed economic policies of George W. Bush is no laughing matter.

It's no surprise now why Mario Diaz-Balart insists on having questions given to him ahead of time.

This is what politicians do when they've only passed one bill after six years in Washington.

This is why we need change.

Our campaign is different. It's about finding solutions to the problems we face, like fixing our broken economy.

The stakes couldn't be higher. Get involved and let's make history.

Thank you so much for being there for us,

Being there means helping. You will find these links useful in getting to a place where you can help. Annette Taddeo. Raul Martinez. Joe Garcia.

Rage: John McCain as people know him

This ain't Rage against the Machine. This is the Republican candidate for master of the nuclear codes.

This video also will go in the box in the right-hand column for those seeking instruction on the Republican ticket.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Voter Reg numbers increase job for us in these last weeks

There are 14-hour days ahead for thousands of unpaid and lightly paid campaign workers.

Your unpaid blogger will be sitting in front of the computer for 6-8 hours a day pondering stuff and every so often writing, and then going out to meetings, events, canvasses and phone banks – piling on 6-8 hours more.

Those who aren’t bloggers can just figure on 14 hours of canvassing, events and phone banks. Y’all can ponder while waiting for the pizza delivery. If you have a job, try to avoid dismissal. It’s tough out there, baby.

Forget about a day off, mowing the lawn, servicing the car, the doctor or the dentist. This is it!

Voter registration is finally over, and the numbers are awesome, and each of the added individuals is a challenge that will require work to produce a vote.

How many challenges? My neighborhood guru, Dan Jonas, captain of North Beach for Obama, says 40,000 new voters in one day, or 200,000 since Aug. 1, have been added to the number of challenges.

Let’s see: how many volunteers does it take to contact 200,000 newly registered Democrats and ask if they have received their absentee ballots, if they need a ride to the polls, if they know where their early voting site is located? And how’s Aunt Tilly and the kids?

“We need help more than ever.”

That’s the word from Dan Jonas and every neighborhood captain, field organizer, deputy field organizer (Welcome the new hires bearing that title, of whom I met one talented example Monday at the unperformed Jay-Z concert), campaign director and on up to Barack Obama himself.

Now is when we win, with the right performance by all of us. Our candidate is doing splendidly. We have a tremendous role model to emulate.

I’m kicking it off this evening by going to a party, a debate-watching party at the Arsht Center in downtown Miami jointly sponsored by the Miami-Dade Democrats. 8 p.m. Y’all come.

Meanwhile, here is word from the Florida Democratic Party on our surge in voter registrations:

With the voter registration for the 2008 General Election now closed, new voter registration numbers provided by the Department of State show another huge surge of Floridians joining the Democratic Party during the month of September.

During the month of September, 20,119 more newly registered Floridians signed up as Democrats than registered as Republicans. Between the beginning of January and the end of September, 170,341 more newly registered voters joined the Democratic Party than joined the Republican Party.

"Floridians are enthusiastic about change and are excited to elect Democrats up and down the ticket. Residents in every corner of the Sunshine State recognize that Democrats will rebuild our economy, create good jobs, lower homeowners' insurance rates and end our addiction to foreign oil, which is why they are joining the Democratic Party in record numbers," said Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman. "Now that our unprecedented voter registration effort has come to an end, we must focus on making sure that every voter in Florida casts their ballot between now and Election Day for Barack Obama and other Democrats. Our tens of thousands of volunteers will be helping their friends and neighbors request absentee ballots, encouraging people to early vote or making sure they get to the polls on Election Day."

According to the Department of State, 72,189 Floridians registered as Democrats while 52,070 people registered as Republicans, during the month of September. Between Jan. 1, 2008 and Sept. 30, 2008, 803,909 people have registered to vote, including 360,478 Democrats, 253,294 Independents and NPAs, and 190,137 Republicans.

Most striking is the net gain numbers, which factor in newly registered voters, party switchers and removes people who are no longer voters in Florida. Since January, the Florida Democratic Party has had a net gain of 415,580 voters, while the Republican Party of Florida has only gained 169,841. This shows that the gap between Democrats and Republicans in Florida has grown by 245,739 voters this year alone.

Here let me stop and repeat the overall lead the Democrats had in Florida in early September:

  • Democrats 4.4 million
  • Republicans 3.9 million
  • Non-party and minor parties 2.3 million.

This should give us ample reason to keep on working, because all those independents are out there waiting for your contact to decide which way they will vote.

Note: in coming days we should hear final numbers of people eligible to vote for president and all else. This will be our final number of challenges to give Barack 27 electoral votes.