Friday, April 30, 2010

One dubious thing after another in Crist statement

Memo to self: Listen to what they’re saying, and analyze.

This strikes me as a mission for the next six months, right up to election day, Nov. 2. I’ve been trying to do this with Marco Rubio, who sometimes demands of his audience: “Now listen to what I’m saying. Listen!” And then he tells a whopper. As if “Listen to what I’m saying” is anesthesia of the brain and auditory nerves, and no one will challenge his saying, for instance, that the United States is great because it’s the only place on earth where you can write a business plan  on a cocktail napkin and then go out and get wealthy.  What? You can do that lots of places. Probably Communist China is the best place for that trick. Especially if you’re a Communist.

Yesterday Gov. Charlie Crist spoke for less than six minutes announcing his switch to running for US Senate as a former Republican, and if you wade through the platitudes, you’ll find quite a few examples of doubt-provoking statements.

My crude Flip video-editing skills may not be fully up to the challenge of describing on video how it went, so I’m adding some written commentary here so that when you get to the video down below, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

He starts, for instance, by saying his decision to run without a party label says more about the United States and Florida than it does about himself. Seems pretty dubious to me. He’s the one dragging in the polls as a Republican. If it must  point at something other than Charlie Crist, how about pointing at the Republican Party, which is riven by ideology and corruption?

Next clip declares that our political system is broken. Again, it’s really the Republican Party and its divisions that are highlighted by Crist's exit from the GOP. The broken political system is better seen when one looks at the Republicans in the US Senate, the Party of No.

Easy thing would have been to run for governor? Wait a minute! Way back months ago when Mel Martinez followed Sarah Palin in quitting his/her elected office well before time done/job done, there was speculation that Crist would bail out of the governorship because Florida was heading for unemployment like seldom before, and he’d be blamed for that if he ran for re-election as governor. So I don’t think he’d have had an easy run. I think his career is at an end. And the jobless rate is still over 12 percent, as Democrat Kendrick Meek reminds us along with the fact that Crist and Rubio are the political authors of the misdirection in the Florida economy.

Note: the tipoff in the example above is that he starts with the word frankly -- a major clue that the next phrase will be untrue. "Frankly, the easy thing for me would have been to run for re-election as governor."

To continue, Crist talks about his brilliant decisions and declares that he’s stopped off-shore drilling. What? What was it that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico the other day? It doesn’t seem he stopped it, not at all. But it was a pretty good applause line.

Then he says he’s going to be with us forever. Forever! What more can I say?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You can help set Florida's goals for 2060

Fifty years from now, they could be following your goals.

I heard about this Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the Miami-Dade County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, of which I'm an appointed member, in a briefing by an official from the Florida Department of Transportation. Before now the FDOT planned out 20 years -- the last plan was considered and issued in 2005 for 2025. Now we're going deeper into the future, and setting goals, objectives and strategies out to 2060.

There's a website, The FTP stands not for file transfer protocol but for Florida Transportation Plan. You will see that there's a meeting in Fort Lauderdale May 11-12 of the Steering Committee, where your presence is welcome.

Click on the Calendar link, and you'll see that in June there's a meeting in downtown Miami of a Regional Workshop. Again, your presence is welcome. You also can send in your ideas and suggestions. That's at the Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus, 2:30 p.m. on June 2.

After the presentation I couldn't stop myself from saying, "If I were issuing a plan going out to the year 2060, I would start by saying this will be a 50-year period of tremendous environmental challenge due to climate change. But in all you've said and shown on the screen, the environment and climate change hardly even get mentioned."

In other words, FDOT needs a lot of help in formulating a plan for 2060. Go to it, please. Save the planet.

FL-25: Crist switch gets the Republican name-callers into high gear

OK, the headline is a little premature. So far I've only got one Republican name-caller, but I'm sure there will be more.

The first out of the blocks is David Rivera, known on this blog as the Republican likely to be Joe Garcia's opponent for the US House in District 25. Last time we wrote about him, his ethical standards were quite low -- way behind even Jeb Bush in the ethical arena -- and now he's very high in the name-calling arena.

Read it on Naked Politics, the Herald's political blog, where Rivera says that what Crist is doing is the biggest betrayal in US history since Benedict Arnold. Wow! That's really big. Like almost sinking the American Revolution, George Washington and all. And what's Crist's offense? Dropping the ID of the party that has already dropped him -- that's what Crist is doing.

Now let's start looking for all the photos of David Rivera and Charlie Crist in fond embrace.

And while we may be distracted for a day or two by Crist's maneuver, remember that we will have to get back to listening to what Rivera says and searching for fact and meaning.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Land of the Free? Show me your birth certificate, buddy

I understand this actually happened, and though it was in Arizona, it's not related to their new law. No, it's federal policy. Carry your birth certificate if you don't look like the cop you're about to encounter.

Fun video: Rain delay in college baseball

It's good to see Florida represented in this.

Another nail in the Republican coffin: Corruption alienates the faithful

The Miami Herald columnist and blogger Daniel Shoer Roth has an interesting blog post here, catching up with what we've been finding in recent years: Quite a few of those supposedly steadfast Republicans are coming over to our side. Summing it up:  "Republicans can't take Hispanic support for granted."

A more general rule would be that Republicans and Democrats shouldn't take anyone for granted.

And the lure of that party credit card can be too much when you need a bag of groceries, or a haircut, or a limo. Right, Marco Rubio?

Friday, April 23, 2010

FL-25: Joe Garcia up against ton of lobbyist money in his unethical opponent

While we’ve been fretting about what Florida’s Teabag state legislature is up to, in fact the Republicans in Tallahassee have just been kicking sand in our eyes so we won’t see David Rivera raising a ton of unethical money to try to ripoff FL-25 from Joe Garcia.

Yep, the moneybags business of a congressional race ran heavily in Rivera’s favor in the first weeks of the session -- even though there’s a state law banning fund-raising while the legislature is in session.

Yep, they’ve got a self-serving legal opinion that says the law doesn’t apply to those running for a federal office -- like District 25 in the US House -- only to people running for state offices. And so David Rivera feels free to ignore finger-waving by former Gov. Jeb Bush, who in the past thought it was unseemly to be doing it.

Yep, that’s the same Jeb Bush who thought it was OK for himself to go to work for Lehman Brothers as a consultant after leaving the governorship and to help sell Florida crappy investments that are worth nothing now. Even with such low standards, Jeb thought it was unseemly for legislators to raise money during session.

So David Rivera’s ethical standards are even lower than that.

Joe Garcia, our former chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, ethically resigned from his high position in the US Department of Energy to run for Congress in District 25, now an open seat. Yep, the Diaz-Balart brothers are doing a double quit -- Lincoln D-B retiring from District 21, and Mario D-B escaping from District 25, where he would lose to Joe Garcia this time, and aiming for the safer-R District 21.

Joe Garcia looks to have a good shot now in his second race in District 25. As Joe put it the other night in a talk to the Democrats of South Dade Club, Mario D-B designed the district for himself when he was in the state legislature (now the teabag legislature). Then in the early 2000’s, District 25 had a big Republican advantage in registration, 42-30 percent. Now the two parties are even at 36 percent, with about 800 more registered Democrats than Republicans. No wonder Mario D-B quit.

No wonder David Rivera is desperate.

He is chair of the committee writing the budget. The unethical game he’s running is that lobbyists are piling money into his federal campaign even though he’s now term-limited as a state representative, and if he were to win and go to the US House, he’d have no vote anymore on state legislation. So this money is purely to influence legislation now before the Florida House, and that’s the spirit and intent of the law and House rules that ban it.

“'The spirit be damned,’ my opponent says,” Joe Garcia told the Democratic club. Still channeling Rivera, he went on, “’We need to raise a lot of money. We need to justify a $2 billion tax increase at the same time Florida had the worst economy in its history.’”

Garcia called Rivera “a very special kind of guy” and predicted: “I’m sure the special interests will pave his way.”

For our part, Democrats will be called on to join the Garcia campaign’s planned grassroots ground drive, and of course to donate as generously as possible, to see that Joe Garcia gets his message out.

“Folks like you will make the difference,” he said to a crowd with a lot of District 25 residents, including many experienced campaigners with a strong dedication to progressive policy.

In the Miami New Times -- Goodness, they even call Rivera a “banana Republican” in their headline -- an article says there were 80 lobbyists and committees backing legislation among Rivera’s donors in the first quarter. He raised a bit over $700,000 and more than half came from the influence-buyers. More detail in the Miami New Times.

This is how low their ethical standards are.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Web site" to "website" in the AP Stylebook

A blast from the past for me – the AP Stylebook changes on something I use all the time but never heard of during a long AP career.

The following popped up on the AP retirees’ newsletter I get every week, and I thought many people might like to know that Web site is out and website is in. Note that there are several links to longer explanations of what goes on in the business of changing AP style. Enjoy.
AP Stylebook Team Announces That 'Web site' Is Changing To 'website'

The AP Stylebook team has announced that "Web site" is changing to "website." In an April 16 note to AP news leaders, Stylebook coordinators Sally Jacobsen, Darrell Christian and Dave Minthorn said the entry change reflects "increasingly common usage." They also announced that plans to change AP style on state abbreviations have been postponed, pending further review. Below, read a Q&A with Minthorn on AP's Facebook page at See media mentions in the Washington Post blog "Faster Forward" at and at in Mallory Jean Tenore's Poynter column

Q&A with Dave Minthorn: From Web site to website, mysteries of AP style explained

In a Q&A, AP Deputy Standards Editor David Minthorn offers a behind-the-scenes look at how The Associated Press decides on AP style guidelines -- including last week's big announcement that AP has dropped "Web site" in favor of "website."

Why the change from "Web site" to "website"?

Followers of AP style — editors, writers, students, P.R. professionals, word lovers — have for several years argued that the two-word spelling of "Web site" is out of date. Certainly it's easier to spell website as one word, along with other compounds like webcam and webmaster, adopted previously by the AP Stylebook. Also, the Stylebook's primary reference, Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, prefers the one-word spelling.

Still, the Web (the shortened proper name of the World Wide Web) and certain other two-word phrases like Web page, remain capitalized in AP style.

The three AP staffers named as the Stylebook coordinators were colleagues during my 25 years there. Sally Jacobsen and Dave Minthorn were people I worked with fairly closely from time to time in several postings, while Darrell Christian and I knew each other only slightly as he was in New York and I was all over the overseas map. If they’re listening, I wish them all well.

My retirement, at the end of 1995, came just as the Web was launching into the forefront of all our minds and work. Windows 95? Well, I started learning it after I bought my first laptop in Jacksonville while still living on the road and considering where to settle down. With crashes and dailups …

Monday, April 19, 2010

2-for-1: The Paul Krugman Blues, plus the Goldman Sachs Blues

This is good for a few chuckles:

And then, you might call this "The Goldman Sachs Blues."

Bet Against The American Dream from Planet Money on Vimeo.

UPDATE: Frank Rich's column in the April 25 NY Times devotes its last two paragraphs to the song in this last video. The lesson: "Those who shorted the housing market shorted the country."

Thanks to the public radio program "This American Life" and the ProPublica noprofit journalistic organization for producing this pointed music video.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Analysis: Frame the issue correctly

Analysis from Mr. Lee:

The key to political victory is successfully framing the issues. The GOP has been pounding us with their false messages for years. But that ends now. Today's issue is....

Bad Politicians

Ronald Reagan said, “Government is not the solution, government is the problem.” He was wrong. Government is not the problem, bad politicians and bad policies are the problem.

And it is the bad Republican politicians and their bad policies that have caused every crisis our nation has faced, The Civil War, the Teapot Dome Scandal, The Great Depression, Watergate, Enron, and Bush's Great Recession. And it is only by electing good leaders, not bad politicians that will fix our problems.

So let's go out there and "WIN AGAIN IN 2010."

The author is a DEC member who wishes to keep the full identity private

Friday, April 16, 2010

Barack Obama in Miami -- fixing problems, getting laughs, calling our candidates' names

Tucked in my box of campaign memories from 2008 is an event at the University of Miami, when candidate Barack Obama gave what seemed a mild shout-out to our Democratic challengers to the incumbent Republicans in the US House of Representatives. That may not be an accurate or full picture of what happened. But since we were struggling to get media coverage, endorsements, donations -- anything! -- it was always disappointing when the result didn’t seem whole-hearted.

Well, this was not the problem Thursday evening in Miami when Barack Obama, who buzzes in on Air Force One now, started his speech at the Adrienne Arsht Center with full-voiced shout-outs to:
  • Alex Sink, running for governor
  • Loranne Ausley, running for chief financial officer
  • Kendrick Meek, running for the open seat in the US Senate
  • Joe Garcia, running for open Florida District 25 in the US House
  • Scott Maddox, running for commissioner of agriculture and consumer affairs
  • Suzanne Kosmas, seeking re-election in Florida District 24 in the US House.

Sorry I didn’t get my Flip camera running quickly enough to get Obama calling Alex Sink’s name and her happy wave in response, but the others can be seen in tiny images -- Hey, the Flip only has a two-power zoom.

It was also super to hear the president thank the brilliant Esperanza Spalding, who thrilled the house with three jazz numbers before the political speeches. If you haven’t heard of her, check out the long profile of her in the New Yorker. Think the rare woman playing bass, think lovely singing, think beautiful. She was a treat.

Let me note that the president called Joe Garcia “a great friend of mine.” Joe has just left his high position with the Department of Energy to run for the open congressional seat in District 25, and we should be on track to a win.

Also on stage with the president were our own US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, FL-20, a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, and DNC Chair Tim Kaine, former governor of Virginia.

Kaine noted that the pundits predict the president’s party loses 28 House seats in the typical mid-term election. “They under-estimate us,” he countered. “We’ve got a great president.” There’s a major health law that will look better and better, Kaine went on, and we Democrats have enough fine candidates that we’re going after some Republican seats -- not merely defending. Hey, there’s Joe Garcia again, running for the seat long misrepresented by Mario Diaz-Balart, who’s escaping to FL-21, vacated by his retiring brother Lincoln. (What is it with these Republican quitters?)

And as the president declared in his humor-laced speech, “We’ve begun to fix the problems” -- chiefly health care to this point (long applause there), but coming soon is financial reform (long applause again for levying fees on banks to recoup all that bailout money).

Obama reminded us that the recovery act included a lot of tax cuts for the middle class, and said he was “amused” that rallies were being held on this Tax Deadline Day to protest supposedly high taxes. “You would think they’d be saying, ‘Thank you,’” he said, drawing one of a string of big laughs.

From this very pleasant time at the Arsht Center (well worth the money), your blogger is predicting that the president will be using his charm and gentle wit to cut the Party of No down to the Party of Nothing in the coming months.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Joe Garcia with supporter after Obama event

The president called Joe Garcia's name and congressional race at the
beginning of his speech.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

FL-25: Joe Garcia is running!

This is good news! 

FL-25, the Everglades congressional district, now has a chance at intelligent, compassionate, Democratic representation in Washington. It's an open seat, thanks to the quittingness of the Diaz-Balart brothers, who seem to take politics as their personal chess game. It's a formerly safe Republican seat that's now headed for the better column of governance. The eyes of the nation will be on this race. We have a duty to donate, volunteer, think and work for Joe Garcia in this race.

With President Obama coming to Florida and Miami on Thursday,  this has become a fine week in Florida. We are the future once again.

Don't forget to join the throng at Draft Joe Garcia for 2010!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

US Senate: Kendrick Meek's campaign video released


UPDATE: It was announced Thursday that the Meek campaign had qualified for the ballot by the petition method -- first time for a Senate candidate. The state Division of Elections verified over 115,000 petitions collected all around Florida.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Possible opponent in FL-25 is ally of indicted Ray Sansom. What's new?

The Republican side of Congressional District 25 is shaping up on the slimy side of life.

Who’s running? One of the best allies of a disgraced big shot in the Florida Republican Party. The candidate is David Rivera, who sits in the Florida House of Representatives in a prominent role -- chair of the Budget Committee. You know, the people who do the bidding of the Republican Party to divide up the spoils of and otherwise mismanage one of the biggest states in the USA. Rivera was anointed chairman by Ray Sansom, former speaker of the House, now under criminal indictment.

To quote Eric Jotkoff, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party, “It hasn’t even been a week since disgraced Speaker Ray Sansom resigned under criminal indictment and now his handpicked Budget Chair says he’s running for Congress. Is this an indication of how hard it is to find a Republican candidate in Florida not marked by scandal?”

Right on, Eric.

The Democratic spokesman points out a good question to fire at David Rivera: Tell us about whether you had a Republican Party credit card. And did you use it for personal expenses, like Marco Rubio?

Florida Republicans are in a fine mess, all by themselves. Trouble is, who’s going to call out a thorough investigation of them when the chief law official in the state is Attorney General Bill McCollum, likely the Republican candidate for governor? Where’s the Tea Party when you need them?

Read The Buzz for details on how bad the Republicans are.

We Democrats are waiting for Joe Garcia, former chair of our Miami-Dade County party and now serving in the Obama administration with the Department of Energy, to declare his candidacy.  District 25 is such an important part of Florida, as its two arms in Miami-Dade and Collier counties embrace the Everglades, which has few voters but such vital resources as water, beauty, wildlife and climate control.

Don’t forget to sign up for the Draft Joe Garcia for 2010! page on Facebook.

Joe ran a strong race in 2008 and now the district looks even more winnable as the seat is open (Thank you, Quitter Diaz-Balart brothers!) and the demographics have continued to shift toward the Democratic Party.

Here's a look at the race by CQ Politics.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

FL-25: A "Democratic beachhead "-- Let's go, Joe Garcia!

Pop over to the Huffington Post and read the 10-point rule for how Democrats can remain on top of the political world even in this difficult year of mid-term elections.

Part of author Robert Creamer's Rule #1 (which concentrates on keeping control of both houses of Congress) says we have to "take beachheads for Democratic power." It specifically mentions only two examples in this huge country, and one of them is our own US House District 25, which former Miami-Dade Democratic Chairman Joe Garcia has on his plate for a run.

Yes, we won Florida for Barack Obama in the 2008 election, and just as big a mission awaits Miami-Dade Democrats in 2010. FL-25 is an open seat with the Diaz-Balart brothers both quitting their seats (Lincoln leaving FL-21 for retirement, and Mario quitting FL-25 to try for FL-21). Your blogger is ready to work for Joe Garcia, when he decides to run, and I hear many enthusiastic voices in agreement.

As the HuffPo piece points out, a victory in FL-25 would help Democrats "continue to woo young Cuban Americans away from their traditional Republican roost."

This is a goal we can all agree on, for the long run, as well as for this tremendously important mid-term election.

Meanwhile, don't forget to sign up on Facebook to Draft Joe Garcia for 2010.