Friday, October 30, 2009

Don't be a Lieberman. Do the right thing on health care

For those whose juices are stirring because of the health-care legislation now emerging, could I suggest a pause to consider what the other side is planning? Take a few minutes and click on this piece with the title “Republican Guide to Undermining Health-care Reform.”

Don’t neglect to click on the link therein to Frank Luntz’ memo on the words to use. Who’s Frank Luntz? Think of Karl Rove and you’re in the same league.
My email inbox overflows with my progressive friends mad as hell at the “lying” Democrats in Congress who aren’t ordering from the progressive menu. Yes, you’re right. But what if at the end of the day your opposition to the bill helps to cause its defeat?
Yes, writing legislation is like making sausage. We’re going to have to live with it until we elect a better Congress. If this drive will increase coverage and stop the rise in health costs, it will be pretty darn good. If progressive opposition to the bill combines with clever conservative opposition and defeats it, will we be better off? Not in my best guess.
I’m with Paul Krugman’s message in today’s NY Times column. If you’re not with us, you’re being a Lieberman. 
Yesterday I saw MSNBC where Big Ed Schultz tried to get Rep. Dennis Kucinich to say he would vote against a health-care bill that didn’t have a state option for single-payer. Even Kucinich was – yesterday, anyway – not willing to go that far.
This is a signal to me to moderate opposition. Get ready to suck it up.
And PS: Thanks to Krugman for the tip on the existence of the blog at the White House Budget Office. Very sharp exchange therein between Peter Orszag, the budget director, and Fred Hiatt, editor of the Washington Post editorial page.  It seems pretty plain that Hiatt didn’t know what he was writing about. We have to be wary against being led astray.

Free public WiFi on Miami Beach?

This has been talked about for quite a while. First it was, then it wasn't. Now it is. At least, that's what it says on the banner of the Miami Beach city governnment Web site. Here's the skinny:

It's LIVE and FREE! Miami Beach WiFi Internet service is finally warming up. Last week, the city began a soft launch by neighborhood. There will still be a 90-day reliability period. Join us for the official "wire-cutting" on Friday, October 30 at 3:00 p.m. in front of Miami Beach City Hall, on the 17 Street side. There will be free giveaways.

My cell phone seemed to be showing a public WiFi net recently as I drove around Miami Beach. Not everywhere. Some places. This bears more investigation. I see the WiFi Web site is still under construction, at least in parts.

UPDATE: Behind the times again. The Herald had a story on this on Oct. 20.  It asserts that Miami Beach is the first city in the country to have this amenity.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

House health bill provisions that take effect in 2010

A couple posts back I put up a link to the full text of the House health bill -- 1,990 pages. Here's something more digestible: Speaker Pelosi's summary of the provisions that take effect in the first year.

Pool report on Vice President Biden in Miami Beach

 Vice President Joe Biden was at a fundraiser in Miami Beach Thursday evening, and here’s a pool press report from Tolu Olorunnipa of the Miami Herald
VPOTUS made his second stop on a South Florida fundraising tour at the house of longtime friend Michael Adler in Miami Beach Thursday night. 
Speaking from about 6:18 to 6:36 to a crowd of about 150, VPOTUS touted his decades of experience on the political scene in an attempt to assure his supporters that, despite the wide array of challenges facing the Obama administration, he and Obama were prepared and ready to take action. 
He spoke generally about most major issues, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs focusing more on the economy than other topics (jobs, housing market, bailouts). He did not directly address the Afghanistan or Iraq wars. 
We inherited a pretty deep hole, we found ourselves dug in pretty deep beyond what I think we even thought or what most people even thought, VPOTUS said. By the time we raised our hands on Jan. 20 to be sworn in, already that month we had lost 700,000 jobs. And before we literally got our computers hooked up, almost before the White House's West Wing was functioning, we lost another 640,000 jobs in February.
 On housing, he noted that Florida, along with other states, has been hit particularly hard.
 VPOTUS said: For 36 months in a row, housing prices plummeted, losing 30 percent of their value. You’re still reeling down here. You and Nevada and Arizona and California -- the places that were at the top of the bubble. 
VPOTUS called the bailout of the banks the most unpopular decision he’s had to make. He said the bailouts were necessary to keep the economy from slipping into a depression. 
VPOTUS noted that there was a lot of good news, but also a lot of bad news to consider after the Obama administration’s first 10 months in office. One piece of good news, he said, is that we are beginning to forget how bad things once were.
The truth is, the good news is, we're forgetting, he said. We’re a long way from out of the hole, but the GDP did grow 3.5 percent this quarter. 
He added: We’ve got a hell of a long way to go, a hell of a long way to go, but we think the trajectory we set the country on is the right trajectory. 
More on good news and bad news:
The good news is the bad news, he said. The good news is it’s beginning to work. The ten largest banks in the country are all but one very healthy. They’ve already paid back 70 billion, We’ve already made 11 billion on that and we’re going to get another 15 billion paid back. The bad news is they’ve got $900 billion in capital and they’re not lending anything. And so, it’s a long way to go. 
He recognized Miami Mayor Manny Diaz by name repeatedly, calling him at one point, one of the best mayors in the country.  
VPOTUS said he speaks on a weekly basis with mayors and governors, who ask Where’s the next stimulus. VPOTUS said he’s not sure there will be another stimulus.
 I am absolutely confident that were going to come out of this. And when we come out of this we’re going to come out stronger than before, particularly, the middle class.
 He spoke about his father losing his job, when he was a 4th grader in Scranton, Pa. VPOTUS said that GDP growth would not be satisfactory unless the middle class was faring well.
The way we look at this is We’re not going to be satisfied even if the GDP is growing at 6.6 percent, he said. if middle class folks, the same folks who got clobbered, through no fault of their own, aren’t able to look their kids in the eye by the time we leave office and say Honey, it’s going to be okay.
 VPOTUS said we were at a defining moment in American history, calling it one of the most dangerous, but also one of the greatest opportunities to effect significant change for the future.
 We’re at one of those inflection points in history, he said. A non-decision today is a fundamental decision. A non-decision on energy policy is a fundamental decision. A non-decision on dealing with American education is a decision.
About 150 attended the event. Ticket prices ranged from $1,000 to $10,000. It was Biden’s second stop in South Florida on Thursday. He spoke at a lunch event in Boca Raton as well.
 In the crowd: Miami mayor Manny Diaz, Basketball star Isaiah Thomas, Miami-Dade Police Chief John Timoney.
Attendees dined on hors d’oeuvres and drank wine, water and soft drinks. Biden spoke outside in front of Michael Adler’s pool. Adler introduced Biden.
 VPOTUS left the state after the event.

Cool bike rack

Seen in Coconut Grove. Instantly voting Yes for this rack.

Company called Creative Metalworks LLC is the maker.

While on this topic: The Miami Beach magazine reports there will be a bike-renting service up and running by early 2010. Supposed to be "the largest in the country, with 900 bicycles total in the whole city."

Take that, you advocates of limited government.

Kudos for AT&T support staff

 Some drops in service on my DSL occurred in the past few days. Considerable time was spent talking with/waiting for AT&T support techs, and I feel inspired to give some technical advice – a rare event, as technical is not the first adjective most people would apply to me.
Yesterday’s half-hour didn’t yield perfect progress, though the AT&T lady talked me into paying $5 more a month for a higher-speed DSL with home wireless network thrown in. The wireless part was what had been bothering me, as it simply wasn’t there sometimes to keep my laptop going. And, with hindsight, I also was sensing that the DSL service direct-wired to my desktop computer wasn’t always as hot as it was supposed to be.
So today, upon powerup, when the wireless was down again and the laptop therefore ineffective, I got on the phone again to the support crew, and 45 minutes later had been through the wringer of speed tests and rewiring two computers.
My technical advice is this: If you have AT&T DSL service, don’t accept sluggish speed or wireless networking that clicks on and off. This can be fixed. Call support. (888-321-2375) They will check with the line techs and test connections and speed. They said my circuit was showing some drops, and to fix it they gave my circuit a higher priority at the “Dee-slam.” What’s that? Well, part of the circuit where the signal is sent to me.
Check on Wikipedia for DSLAM and it’s revealed as Digital Subscriber Line Multiplexer.
Here endeth the technical advice for the day.
I’m glad to say that the accents of the AT&T support staff both days indicated that African-American women of the Deep South were fielding my requests, and they were good at their jobs.

Link to the House bill on health care

The House bill on health care: you can read it. It's a pdf file.

Only 1,990 pages. Did I read that right?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Newt G is taken down yet another level

This rolls in from Michael Precker, my friend and former AP colleague, who has a certain fame as a refugee from journalism now working to promote a topless club in Dallas. What a pro! He's been on the Rachel Maddow show twice with rips into Newt Gingrich, once the Speaker of the US House of Representatives and now just a Republican scammer. Still, I just heard Newt's name on NPR. Not passe' yet.

Take this poll on the public option

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois is asking for input on what sort of a public option should go into the health bill. You can take the poll.

This came to me by email, making me wonder how the Friends of Dick Durbin got me on their email roster.

Shakeup in District 5?

A quick intramural FYI:

While most of South Florida is focused on the upcoming Miami mayor's race, something interesting is happening in District 5 -- the district covering some of Miami's poorest neighborhoods (Overtown, Liberty City, Little Haiti...) Just a few weeks ago, most people you talked to would tell you that no one would be able to beat the incumbent: Manny Diaz protege Michelle Spence Jones. The commissioner has raised nearly $180,000 -- mostly from an assortment of developers and other business interests (no obvious Marlins money, but you've got to figure...) while her opponents, David Chiverton of the MLK Economic Development Center, and Jeff Torain, the former deputy police chief in Opa-Locka, have barely raised $20,000 between them.

But that was a few weeks ago.

And while I'd be the first to admit that there exists a frustrating, ongoing sense of incumbency fatalism in the Black electorate in South Florida, which keeps ineffective leaders in office literally until they retire, run for a different office, or get indicted -- suddenly I'm getting calls from unexpected people suggesting that Torain might have a shot to at least force a run-off. So what's up? I hosted an on-air debate between the candidates a couple of weeks ago on Hot 105, and the phones were so slammed, it took up the whole show. Last week, Bishop Curry took his turn, and same deal. Spence-Jones didn't turn up at the first scheduled debate last month (moderated by Jim Defede at a local church,) but there, too, a surprisingly robust crowd attended. Clearly, there is interest in this race within the black community (though it's impossible to know how much of it is coming from people actually registered to vote in District 5).

Meanwhile, Torain got the Miami Herald endorsement last Saturday (not surprising since the Herald has been chopping away at Spence Jones' ethical issues, and since Chiverton figured, not prominently, but palpably, in the paper's "House of Lies" expose.) But today, he also got the Miami Times endorsement. And for those of you who don't know, that's pretty huge. The Times is the African-American "paper of record" in Miami, and for them to ditch a well-known incumbent who has widely been considered unbeatable is no small thing. For Torain, the endorsement is in some ways more important than the Herald nod, since more people in the target demographic actually read the Miami Times cover to cover -- and pass it around -- than the tiny number who flip through the Herald on a daily basis all the way through to the editorial page. [Full disclosure: I contribute the occasional column to the rival paper in Broward, the South Florida Times...]

We'll see if the change vibe in the air is real, or if this is just the deep breath before the plunge back into the status quo on November 3rd. In a low, low turnout election (which sadly this will be,) a small but energetic base -- for or against the incumbent -- could swing the race.

Cross-posted at

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A quick updater on the debates swirling over US foreign policy

The NY Times weekend book review section has an endpiece that's more about an issue than about a book. Last weekend it was about foreign policy, under the headline "Which Way Do We Go?"

It was meat and potatoes to this student of foreign policy, covering nine recent books (if I counted right) and pingponging between neoliberalism and neoconservatism (both now out of fashion) and landing on neo-isolationism.

Is that the way we're going? To a "return to the inwardness of the post-World War I years?" Public opinion may be forcing the United States in that direction, though its history is not exactly replete with success.

Here's the final word from the esssay:

It may not be a bad thing that almost no one in foreign policy circles is proposing anything new. Foreign policy is not modern dance; tried and true may be better than avant-garde and visionary. Still, in today’s world, marked by unparalleled threats and characterized by a striking division between elite ideas and broad public opinion, it’s hard to believe that America’s way forward is a return to the past.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pool Report: President Obama in Miami Beach Monday night

By Beth Reinhard of the Miami Herald:

At the Fountainebleau Miami Beach hotel, President Obama gave largely the same speech he gave in New York City last week at a DNC fundraiser. He ticked off his accomplishments: saving economy from brink of disaster, expanding insurance to poor children, ending ban on stem cell research, pledging to close Guantanamo. "I don't rattle. I'm not going to shrink back,'' he said to reassure supporters that his critics don't have him on his heels.
Obama spoke to a reception of about 150 people who had paid the minimum $500 ticket price and then to a room of about 300 bigger donors who were eating dinner across the hall. He began speaking at about 7:12 p.m. and wrapped up across the hall at 7:57 p.m. The fundraiser raised about $1.5 million for the DCCC and DSCC.
Some quotes: "I am absolutely confident we are going to get heath care done by the end of this year."
"We have to take the long view on this process,'' referring to all of the many goals of his administration.
"We are closer than we have ever been to passing healthcare reform,'' he said. But he added, "It's  not going to get easier from here on in. It's going to get harder.''
U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek said he met Obama on the tarmac in Miami, along with Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (candidate for governor), state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach (candidate for attorney general), U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.
 About 200 protesters gathered across the street from the hotel with a wide range of gripes, from healthcare to immigration to the president's golf game, which until Sunday had never included a woman. The crowd included Haitians calling for asylum, anti-abortion activists, gun rights advocates and
opponents of toppled Honduran president Manuel Zelaya.
I received this report by email thanks to my participation, as a blogger, in a White House regional media group. Almost every day I get news releases and invitations to listen in on conference calls where Obama administration officials brief  reporters. In my previous life as an AP reporter I occasionally helped cover a visiting president and on a few rare occasions wrote a pool report like this for other reporters who were not able to observe the president in action.
 From other sources and my own observation while headed west on the Julia Tuttle Causeway about 6 pm, I can report that traffic on 41st Street and the east-bound causeway was bad bad bad while the president was in the neighborhood. lt

Public option? Robert Reich's view

Your blogger is kinda steaming about the opt-out public option that's now atop the US Senate. So in the meantime here's a video by Robert Reich that sounds as if it was recorded before Tuesday's developments.

The email inbox includes one from the White House saying the president is OK with opt-out. I thought he'd be stronger on the public side.

The NRA marches to its own calendar

Browsing gun-control sites on the internet may teach us about the opposition. For instance, the NRA is following some other calendar. We're all going to vote on Tuesday Nov. 3 this year. In Virginia the NRA thinks otherwise.

Check out the video:

Don't try this at home. Vote on Nov. 3, next Tuesday. Please.

UPDATE: With further browsing I learn that the NRA is offering free membership these days. They must be getting desperate.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Crist wants grand jury to probe state corruption

I've been nagging about this for some time now, so I've got to say positive things about the governor. Darn, though, I never expected him to do the right thing.

Anyway, like the Democrats in the state legislature, there are many good ideas out there on how to stamp down on corruption. I don't think Charlie Crist helps by having a fundraiser in Arizona with a convicted (later pardoned) corrupt politician, but if a grand jury gets right to work it may lead to cleaner elections next year.

Here is a statement issued by the Democratic leader in the state House:

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands (D-Weston) issued the following statement in response to Governor Charlie Crist’s call for a statewide grand jury on corruption by public officials.

“I am encouraged by Governor Crist’s expression of concern about the conduct of some public officials throughout Florida, and I endorse his call for a statewide grand jury to investigate criminal activities among those who serve in government.

“I urge the governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to move expeditiously and approve during the 2010 legislative session measures to prevent wrongdoing by public officials and restore the public’s confidence in their government.

“Various recommendations have already been proposed. One worthy idea has been offered by state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald (D-Sarasota) and state Sen. Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) to amend the state constitution to reform the Legislature’s appropriations process.

“The proposal these Democratic state lawmakers have offered would require all budget deliberations be done in public and with sufficient advance notice so that the people and the press can witness how the budget is written and what it includes. In addition, the amendment would require that the state’s spending plan is written in plain language to be understandable to the average citizen. It would also require three-fourths of the House or Senate to approve amendments filed in the last five days of a session, in an attempt to end the temptation for legislators to load legislation with favors for special interests and political donors.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New members piling in to Miami-Dade Democratic Party

Here's a quick few seconds of video from the Monday night meeting of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. Late in the agenda new members came forward to be sworn in, and there were almost two dozen! Great work by our recruiters and the credentials committee that made sure the applications were in order.

Chairman BJ Chiszar said there were about 70 people still in the pipeline now to be awarded membership in the Democratic Executive Committee, as the official body is known. We're heading for a membership close to 400.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Democrats of South Dade Club is honored by Florida Democratic Party

A moment of pride for the vigorous club we all admire: the Democrats of South Dade Club won a new award given by the Florida Democratic Party at the Orlando state conference on Saturday. The DSDC  was awarded the Certificate of Outstanding Meritorious Achievement for Large County Democratic Clubs. First time it has been given, and very suitable that it went to the DSDC.

You don't have to live in South Dade to be a member. Check out their website for meeting information. Just happens to be a special meeting this week, at Books and Books in Coral Gables, 8 p.m. Wednesday Oct. 14, to hear author David Swanson read from his new book, "Daybreak: Undoing of the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union."

Here's a history of the club sent in to support its candidacy for the award.

Democrats Of South Dade Club (DSDC) is nearing its 10th year as an active political entity in Miami-Dade.  The organization was established on January 20, 2001, the day of George W. Bush’s inauguration as President. Throughout our existence we have been lauded as a “model political club,” a compliment heard frequently from political activists and Dem office holders who have visited our campaign operations and participated in our club meetings. 

With a roster of more than 150 members and several hundred South Dade campaign volunteers, DSDC has been able to mount effective campaign organizations for the local Democratic Party and create a number of worthwhile projects since our inception. For example, the operation of last year’s self-sufficient, all-volunteer presidential campaign was a massive undertaking and resulted in unprecedented campaign activity within our large, urban county. After DSDC opened its Coordinated Campaign Office July 2, 2008 in Pinecrest, it led the effort to open other campaign offices throughout the county. By campaign’s end there were 23 field and administrative offices in Miami-Dade, many of these supported with monies and material from Democrats Of South Dade Club.

The DSDC spearheaded a campaign of more than 1,000 volunteers who walked 14 South Dade precincts, worked the early voting locations and provided a huge Election Day effort that saw our Pinecrest volunteers fully staff 28 voting sites The office also supported the entire Democratic ticket in Miami-Dade, aiding the efforts of congressional candidates Joe Garcia, Raoul Martinez and Annette Taddeo, Harvey Ruvin, Luis Garcia, Frank Morra and Michael Calderin.  During this campaign cycle, Dems of South Dade also spearheaded a number of highly visible events across Miami-Dade, including successful projects at the University of Miami, Jungle Island (with Alex Sink) and at the homes of a number of activists. The campaign helped deliver a 140,000 vote plurality in Miami-Dade for Sen. Obama, paved the way for his victory in Florida and eventual election as president. On Inauguration Day DSDC sponsored a community wide luncheon in South Miami where 120 people viewed the inauguration, celebrated with friends and toasted our new president.

DSDC has stayed active in a number of fronts throughout 2009, backing the campaign of Democrats in municipal races, continuing our highly successful voter registration drives, teaming with Fair Districts Florida (FDF) in securing petitions and raising funds and joining Organizing for America (OFA) in a number of visible local events. Our campaign efforts centered on local, non-partisan contests where an identified Democrat was being opposed by a registered Republican. Our activity included support for council candidate Bob Ross in Pinecrest, Commissioner Maria Anderson in Coral Gables and candidate Lew Sellars in South Miami.  All three candidates won their races.

Our voter registration drives now include activity at all three Miami-Dade immigration field office locations: Kendall, Miami and Hialeah. DSDC makes regular visits to the naturalization ceremonies throughout the county and has been actively engaged in signing up new citizens as voters for a number of years. Throughout ’08 and ‘09, our proportion of new Democrats to new Republicans was frequently 3-1 and 4-1. During the height of the  presidential campaign cycle we were registering Ds over Rs as much as 14-1. 

Fair Districts Florida has been one of the club’s ongoing projects this year and in the past. We have financially assisted FDF, purchased and staffed a booth at the Gay Pride Event on Miami Beach and walked door-to door to acquire petitions.

DSDC’s recent alliance with OFA has seen us participate in a number of public events in support of President Obama’a agenda. Members have lobbied at the office of  Sen. Bill Nelson, joined Health Care rallies throughout the county and joined other activists in downtown Miami at the Health Care vigil. 

Democrats Of South Dade has been a consistent supporter of our local Democratic Executive Committee (DEC) and the activities of the Florida Democratic Party (FDP).  32 DSDC members are also members of the local DEC.  At the most recent Florida Party Conference in Orlando, 14 of our members were in attendance.  Four DSDC members also participated in the FDP/DCCA Miami Lakes conference held recently.

Our club has been blessed by a continuity of veteran leadership that has guided the organization through its first decade of existence. DSDC has also reached out to its membership and encouraged active Dems to seek election to our board of directors.  At the club election this spring, four new members were elected to our board.  We are  confident this new leadership will be able to carry on with the work of the club, the  Democratic Party and the Democratic community.

New Sen. LeMieux rakes in $1.6 million from his law firm

Our new senator, George LeMieux, should not be tempted into corruption in the short time he says he’ll be in office. For most of us the pay of a US senator would be a big raise – it’s $174,000 a year. LeMieux, though, would be taking a pay cut if he gave up his other job – running the law firm of Guenster Yoakley & Stewart – and tried to go for US senator, long-term.

At the law firm he’s paid $1,651,578 a year. So he reports to the US Senate on his financial disclosure report.  Pretty cushy, huh? Certainly no temptation is left to put a hand in the public treasury.
Thanks to the Miami Herald Naked Politics blog for putting this out. Now, what to make of it?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Bill Nelson hears "public option" yells

Sen. Nelson got a little heckling Friday at the Florida Democratic
Party Conference in Orlando. He said he already voted for it and on
Tuesday a bill will ome out of the Senate Finance Committee.

Obama + Nobel Peace Prize = Amazing!

This is a triumph of hope.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

FL-Sen: Kos keeps backing Rubio's chances against Crist

All I can say is, read it and ponder. This is the big guy among us bloggers, Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos, judging that Marco Rubio is going to beat Charlie Crist to be the Republican nominee for US Senate next year. Is it just the similarity of their first names? Both young guys with Latino origins?

I'm assuming Markos wouldn't vote for Rubio, if he were a Floridian. But just to be sure I'm posting a comment to link my recent post on Rubio's appearance  in Key Largo.

Do Republican Senate hopefuls think they're immune to suspicion?

Thanks to the Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog for pointing out how the two big Republicans running for US Senate don't mind tainted money. Gov. Charlie Crist is going to raise money with a convicted fraudster in Arizona (later pardoned) and Marco Rubio launched his campaign with a bash hosted by the Broward ophthalmologist at the center of a federal corruption indictment.

Business as usual. The word is brazen.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Keith Olbermann to reform health care single-handed – with our help in five states

This was ferocious. The Teabaggers will shrivel. Glenn Beck won’t stand up to this. Olbermann at his most intense for an entire hour of Special Comment on health care reform Wednesday night. The plan that emerged at the end was audacious: Massive free clinics in five states to show six Blue Dog US senators the lives at stake in their pitiful pandering to the insurance industry.

Take 11 minutes, at least, and watch Part 5 of the Olbermann performance where he sums up his argument and describes the plan for free clinics in Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, Louisiana and Nevada.
 The idea is to shame Senators Blanche Lincoln D-AR,  Mark Pryor D-AR, Max Baucus, D-MT, Mary Landrieu D-LA, and Harry Reid D-NV. Yes, the Blue Dogs! Not a snaky Republican among the targets.
After you’ve written a check to the National Association of Free Clinics feel free to go back and watch the rest of Olbermann’s hour of superb oratory. How he marshaled his facts. How the emotion showed as he told of his father’s agony of illness and of his childhood friend’s need to sell his farm and everything else to pay for his daughter’s long hospitalization.
A few quotes:

·         “I will not settle for a compromise bill.”
·          “It is time to be bold.”
·          “How can we not be united against death?”
·         “We must recognize the enemy here … the moneyed interests who have bled their customers white.”
·         “I’ll donate. How much will you donate?”

Take your temperature. And check

There's been a big refresh on and every suffering one of you is advised to check it out. A couple days ago I looked at it and it seemed less informative than it had been weeks ago. Today the Department of Health and Human Services announced there was much new information, and I think it's true.

A new item I tried was a self-evaluation test for adults. I tried to remember my symptoms a week ago and plugged them in. It confirmed my suspicion that if I'd felt a little worse when I woke up in the middle of that night, I should have gone to the ER. Fortunately,  shortness of breath passed quickly once I was awake, and that was about the worst I felt.

How to be a reporter

The Florida Democratic Party annual conference takes place this weekend in Orlando, and your blogger is one of the presenters during Saturday's part of the program given over to the Florida Progressive Coalition.

Can't wait? Here are my notes and outlines on How To Be a Reporter. There will be even more on citizen journalism from other presenters.

The Problem
Here are two of many recent analyses (10/2009) of how the news media are in trouble and what might emerge:
· Article in October Atlantic Monthly by Mark Bowden analyzing the political thuggery behind the Web-based attacks on Sonya Sotomayor, Van Jones, ACORN, etc.
· Oct. 12, 2009 The Nation “How to save the news.” William F. Baker argues for public money to back public broadcast outlets to create something like the BBC or state broadcasting in Germany and other countries. He has some favorite non-profits, and among them.
You can step up for the thousands of vanished reporters
Are you nosy? Driven? Convinced? Like to write? Or take photos, video? You could be a reporter.
·         For advice, fire up the search engine to find tips and tutorials. The Society of Profesional Journalists will expose you to ethics, story-telling, citizen journalism. The AP association of managing editors will do the same. Note that dressing up as pimp and prostitute and carrying a hidden camera into ACORN offices is not considered ethical. Impersonation can be illegal, as can unannounced recording.  The hidden camera may have its uses but not in up-front reporting. Professionals (?) wear their company ID’s laminated around their necks.
·         Warning.  Reporting can be dangerous. Not as much as lumberjacking, but still … You need a thick skin. Sometimes a lawyer. This is where a big publishing company or news agency comes in handy – you have legal protection built in. The citizen reporter can turn to The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and various Wiki sites to help understand issues such as libel and shield law.

First lady's roots in slavery are revealed

This story in today's NY Times reveals a slave ancestor Michelle Obama didn't know she had. This is the story of our America, in its grit and mix, and the imagination hopes it was friendly rather than violent. Required reading.

Maurice Ferre makes it official: Running for US Senate nomination

The crowd running for office in Florida next year just grew. Maurice Ferre, former mayor of Miami, announced he's running for the nomination for US Senate. Darned if I heard him say Democrat in this video:

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

State Sen. Dan Gelber demands legal action to boost education

Dan Gelber is running for the Democratic nomination to be state attorney general, and he's advising the current attorney general how to do his job. Specifically, in education.

Is is possible that all this fresh competition for our statewide offices -- they are up for election in 2010 with no incumbents running -- may just lead to better government?

Gelber, my state senator, is demanding that Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican running for governor next year, assert his duty to force the governor (quitting-early Charlie Crist) and state legislature to abide by the state constitution, which happens to require that they provide the means for a quality public education.

Read the full text of his letter to McCollum on the Dan Gelber blog. I've posted a comment there suggesting that this is overdue, and it's a good idea to set a tone for having the constitution  also ban gerrymandering and require that health care and education be equal in priority -- fundamental values of the people of Florida.

Dave Aronberg, state senator from Greenacres, is running for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, too.