Friday, July 27, 2007

Sick Joke Part 2

An update on my previous post about Tim Fasano's candidacy. He has not filed to run for the district 11 seat. That means he is breaking the law by having a campaign website. Good work, Tim. Below is a list of canidates that have filed.

Hat tip to Gene Smith.

Representative District Candidate Status Primary General

001 Roberts, Joe (DEM) Active

002 Boyd, Allen (DEM) *Incumbent Active
Flowers, Mark (REP) Active
Ortiz, Robert (REP) Active

004 Crenshaw, Ander (REP) *Incumbent Active

005 Brown-Waite, Ginny (REP) *Incumbent Active

006 Stearns, Clifford (REP) *Incumbent Active

007 Tart, Louis Jack (CPF) Active

008 Kroehler, Corbett M. (DEM) Active
Van, Quoc (DEM) Active

009 Mitchell, Bill (DEM) Active

010 Simpson, Samm (DEM) Active

012 Putnam, Adam H. (REP) *Incumbent Active

013 LaFevers, Michael S. (DEM) Active

014 George, Jeff (NPA) Active

015 Blythe, Stephen Lee (DEM) Active
Rancatore, Paul (DEM) Active

016 Harrell, Gayle (REP) Active
Rooney, Thomas Joseph (REP) Active
Valeche, Hal R. (REP) Active

021 Diaz-Balard, Lincoln (REP) *Incumbent Active
Santoro, Dean (REP) Active

022 Flagg, Marc (REP) Active

023 Hastings, Alcee L. (DEM) *Incumbent Active
Sanchez, Ray Torres (DEM) Active
Thorpe Jr., Marion D. (REP) Active

024 Curtis, Clint (DEM) Active

025 Diaz-Balard, Mario (REP) *Incumbent Active

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Not the Vern Buchanan We Know

The Bradenton Herald printed an editorial puff piece on Vern Buchanan July 24, 2007. This editorial is so contrary to the facts it makes us want to shout out:

Earth to Bradenton Herald: this is not the Vern Buchanan we know.
Let's take a look at some quotes from the Bradenton Herald and then just the facts ma'am.

Bradenton Herald:
Buchanan has proven to be a strong force for bipartisanship in a Congress polarized by partisan feuding.

Buchanan votes 92.6% of the time with Republicans. Buchanan was not even in the top 20 Republicans to break with the Republican Party on significant votes according to CQ's Party Unity Score .

Bradenton Herald:
So far, Buchanan is sticking by President Bush on the biggest issue, the Iraq War, but that support is not open-ended
The Facts:

He has continually and consistently supported the President's failed Iraq War policies with no signs of stopping. As recently as July 12th, Buchanan voted against setting a timeline for responsible redeployment of our troops. In May, he voted against setting benchmarks that would force the Iraqi people to take responsibility for their own security. Both of these votes came after visiting Iraq and witnessing the problems firsthand, he called it "mission impossible" and said he was "doubtful" we could succeed.

What is not open ended about that?

Bradenton Herald:
high on Buchanan's radar is funding for veterans' care
The facts:

Buchanan voted against a historic and much-needed $6.6 billion increase in funding for veterans' health care programs. He didn't even show up to vote for the largest increase in veterans' health care funding in the 77-year history of the Veterans Administration. He also missed the vote that allotted the long awaited national cemetery its funding. So much for his top priority. Just what were you doing that was so important you missed that vote, Vern?

Bradenton Herald:

His campaign to balance the federal budget

Buchanan voted against requiring the House to follow pay-as-you-go rules so that the budget can stay balanced.

So much for that campaign, eh Vern?

So, Bradenton Herald, who was this guy you wrote about? It is certainly not the Vern Buchanan that we know.

City Council Money Race

Now that the match ups have been settled for the St. Petersburg City Council elections this year, it is time to take a look at how the fund raising race is going. Money does not always equate success in local elections (see John McQueen in 2003, or Darden Rice in 2005), but it can provide some clues.

Leading the money race at this point is Gershom Faulkner running for Renee Flowers seat, District 7. Faulkner has raised an astounding $9,933 in the reporting period ending June 30th. Faulkner started raising money in earnest in April when he garnered over $2,000. Much of this money was raised from connections he had made in Tallahassee during his tenure as legislative assistant to State Rep. Frank Peterman. This money can also be viewed as the high regard Faulkner is held in by his Tallahassee contacts.

In May and June, Faulkner turned to his fund raising ability in St. Petersburg. Supporters such as State Senator Charlie Justice, and State Reps. Bill Heller and Rick Kriseman helped him raise the balance of the $ 9,900. The good news for Faulkner, he has yet to tap the fundraising assistance from many more of his high profile supporters including County Commissioners Ken Welch and Calvin Harris. Also, Rep. Frank Peterman has yet to tap his fundraising base for Faulkner.

The bad news for Gershom Faulkner? He spent $8,700 this past quarter. Much of this money went to his high profile Campaign Manager, Mitch Kates. However, a substantial portion also went into campaign literature most of which is still in inventory.

Wengay Newton, Faulkners' opponent in the general election in November has raised only $2,300 to date. Like Faulkner, he has already spent most of it. Newton has spent over $1,600 to date. This doesn't leave him with a lot of cash on hand either.

The other big money raiser is Ed Montanari. Montanari will be facing a September primary in the race for the Distrcit 3 seat being vacated by Bill Foster. Montanari raised $6,400, the vast majority of it in June alone. Unlike his counterparts in District 7, Montanari has spent only a paltry $743 to date. Most of that ($500) went for consulting fees to the Mallard Group in Clearwater. Montanari better hope Mallard will break out of the losing streak they went on in 2006.

In contrast, Montanaris' opponents have raised only $2,300 combined. Bill Dudley, who lost this race to Bill Foster in 2003 has raised only $819 to date. This despite the fact that he has been running for this seat for the past 4 years. Cathy Harrelson contributed the $500 that her campaign reported raising this period. She did not officially get into the race until June. The fourth person in this race, Cliff Gephart, has yet to file a campaign finance report.

In the District 1 race, Herb Poslon, appointed to the Council to replace Rick Kriseman, raised $2,625 this period. $1,000 came from the Polson family. Herb's wife wrote a $500 check to the campaign and Herb loaned $500. Polson spent a considerable amount already on campaign start up costs, but still had $1,300 cash remaining at the end of the reporting period. Polson's opponent, former Council Member Bob Kersteen, loaned his campaign $100. This is the total extent of Kersteen's fundraising so far.

In District 5, incumbent Jamie Bennett was waiting to see if he was going to draw an opponent. He has only loaned his campaign $500 so far. He wound up drawing two last minute opponents, Chris Kelly and Debra Woodard. Neither of the challengers have had to file a finance report as of yet.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hillarys Achilles Heel

Hillary Clinton leads all her rivals in the preseason polls for the Democratic Presidential nomination. She has been holding a double digit national lead for the last eight months. But before we hold the coronation, there is something that is worth taking a look at. It just might not be all over yet. And at least one candidate seems to be getting it.

What might Hillary's Achilles Heel be? And who is going after it? All this and more, below the fold...

Last month the Washington Post had this headline: Clinton Owes Lead in Poll To Support From Women . The lead for the story reads like this:
The consistent lead that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has maintained over Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and others in the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination is due largely to one factor: her support from women.
The story goes on to say:
Her 15-point lead in the poll is entirely attributable to that margin.
Entirely attributable to women. Remarkable. Or is it?

A Newsweek poll earlier this year found
86% say they would vote for a qualified woman candidate for president if their party nominated one. But when they were asked whether America is ready to elect a woman president, only 55% say yes.
Interestingly, Newsweek said
men are more likely than women to say the country is ready for a woman president.
To get only 55% support for the ready for a woman president question with men more likely than women to say yes, a majority of women polled must have said no.

And there is this little tidbit from the Washington Post again:
In a Post-ABC News poll conducted in April, 43 percent of female independents said they definitely will not vote for her if she is the Democratic nominee
So in a strange twist of fate, it seems that women are the Achilles Heel of Hillary Clintons' Presidential aspirations. A majority of women don't believe that the country is yet ready for a woman president. And a very significant number of independent women are definitely not ready for Hillary Clinton.

So, do any of the other campaigns seem to understand this about Clinton? Again from the Post:
Harrison Hickman, a pollster for Edwards, said he believes there is potential for Clinton's early bond with these voters to falter. "When you talk to women in more detail, they express doubts," Hickman said. Only when rival campaigns start trying to exploit those doubts, and when Clinton's camp starts addressing them, will the polls start to paint a more meaningful portrait of the race, he said.
So what is the Edwards camp doing about it? They are rolling out their not so secret weapon, Elizabeth Edwards:
The wife of the Democratic presidential hopeful from North Carolina, John Edwards, is taking the starring role in a new campaign commercial for her husband.

“You’re not going to outsmart him. He works harder than any human being that I know, always has, “ says Edwards, in the television ad now playing in the crucial early primary state of New Hampshire.
Elizabeth Edwards is also going directly after Hillary:
she fired away at Hillary Clinton, telling the on-line magazine Salon that “sometimes you feel you have to behave as a man and not talk about women’s issues. I’m sympathetic; she wants to be commander in chief. But she’s just not as vocal a women’s advocate as I want to see. John is.”
Here is something else from John Edwards about his wife speaking her own mind:
it appears he’s just fine with his wife speaking her mind, telling us that “nothing about Elizabeth surprises me. You can’t control what she says, nor would I ever want to, that’s one of the great things about her.”
Seems to me that is the kind of thing women voters would want to hear from a male candidate about his attitude towards women.

St. Pete Council Races Set

Yesterday was the close of qualifying for St. Pete City Council races. There will be two primaries in September. In District 3 where Bill Foster is term limited out and in District 5, where Jamie Bennett is running for reelection.

District 3 is the only seat up this cycle that is currently held by a Republican. The Democrats only chance to pick up this seat rests on the shoulders of Cathy Harrelson. Harrelson is an investment advisor and financial professional. She is also a past President of the Sierra Club, although that is not prominently featured on her web site. Also, her campaign is being run by Darden Rice, another Sierra Club leader. Rice ran and lost against Ernest Williams in 2005. This despite raising $50,000.

There are two Republicans running to keep this seat on their side of the ledger. Bill Dudley, a retired high school wrestling coach is running again after losing to Bill Foster in the general election in 2003. Ed Montanari is the remaining candidate. He ran Bill Foster's campaign in 2003. Ed is a commerical airline pilot and was Chair of the Albert Whitted Advisory Task Force. This is going to be the toughest race in the City this cycle.

Jamie Bennett has drawn 2 opponents in his bid to retain the City Council seat he first won in 2001. Bennett was unopposed in 2003 and was hoping to get a campaign this time. Bennett has aspirations to run for Mayor in 2009 and wants a platform to start that campaign. Well, he certainly got one. Chris Kelly, another Democrat has filed to run. Kelly is co-founder of Pinellas Heritage and is a former President of the Historic Roser Park Neighborhood Association. Also running is Debra Woodard. Woodard is a 55 year old African American Democrat. Unfortunately not much else is know about Ms. Woodard at this point. The Republicans apparently were unable to come up with a challenger despite the rantings of Dave the Appraiser. Well, better luck next time Dave (not). One would have to give the early edge to Jamie Bennett right now. However, one would also be careful about what you ask for. Jamie may have gotten more than he bargained for.

In District 1 Herb Polson, who was newly appointed to fill the seat vacated by State Rep. Rick Kriseman, will face off against former City Council Member Bob Kersteen. Kersteen is a 70 year old Republican who last served on the City Council in 2000. Polson is one of the most qualified people ever to run for a City Council seat. He retired from the City of St. Petersburg last year in hopes of being appointed to fill Krisemans seat as Rick ran for the state House. Herb's hope was fulfilled when the Council appointed him over, you guessed it, Bob Kersteen. Because elections are about the future and Herb is superbly qualified, I'd have to say that this will be a laugher.

That brings us to District 7 where Rene Flowers can not run again due to term limits. There will be no primary here as only 2 candidates qualified. In November Wengay Newton will square off against Gershom Faulkner. Wengay Newton is president of the Westminster Heights Neighborhood Association. His brother Winnie also happens to be president of the local fire fighters union. Faulkner was the long term aide to state Rep. Frank Peterman and is currently Outreach Director for Congresswoman Kathy Castor. Faulkner certainly has the inside track on endorsements from elected officials. This starts with the Dems in the Pinellas legislative delegation, runs through the Dems on the County Commission, includes Mary Brown on the School board and several other local elected officials. Faulkner was also Deputy campaign manager for Kathy Castor's successful primary election for the Congressional seat vacated by Jim Davis. He knows what it takes to win elections and seems to be doing most things right. This should be a big win for Faulkner who is a real up and comer in the Democratic Party.

Turnout is likely to be extremely low in the primary elections. It will be only slightly better for the general election in November. It is pretty safe to say the Dems will at least hold on to their 5-3 majority on the council. It is also possible that they might gain a 6th seat, although that is looking like a pretty tough proposition right now.

We'll have something on 2nd quarter fund raising soon. So stay tuned. This could be interesting.

YouTube Debate Impressions

The big winner tonight was the format. Questions coming from real people. Yeah, the media (CNN) ultimately picked the ones shown, the universe they picked from was questions submitted by real people.

I went down to a local sports bar to watch the debate. I was told that a bunch of people were going to be there. The bunch turned out to be about 15 folks, and it was a pretty progressive 15 folks at that. Lots of Kucinich fans.

To my mind, John Edwards was the clear winner among the serious candidates tonight. I actually thought Joe Biden did pretty well, but it is hard to take his candidacy seriously. But Edwards was superb most of the night. He talked about taking power away from the special interests as the only way to get big change. He noted that we wouldn't get big change by trading our insiders for theirs. And his answers on Universal Health Care blew the top off the response meters.

Hillary Clinton abandoned the tag liberal, choosing progressive instead. John Edwards rejected reparations for slavery, but noted that there was a lot we could do to make up for the unequal treatment still occurring in our country today. He specifically mentioned predatory lending to blacks. Barack Obama also demurred on reparations, but suggested too that there were investments that could be made, particularly in education, to ease the disparities among the races.

Obama and Clinton got asked the race / gender question. They both tried to shrug it off with humor. Obama suggested that he proves his African American credentials trying to catch a cab in Manhattan. Clinton said she "had no choice" but to run as a woman. But John Edwards still came up with the best answer here. He told folks who were thinking about not voting for Obama because he is black, or for Hillary because she is a woman that "I don't want your vote".

Edwards again led in his answer to a question about who would be a better advocate for women. Edwards pointed out that the issues he stresses in his campaign, poverty and health care have a disproportionate impact on women. He stated that his issues were women's issues. Clinton pointed to her trip to China where she stated that women's rights are human rights.

Edwards got the gay marriage question and promptly fumbled it. He did say that it would be wrong for anyone to use their faith to deny rights to others. However, this was his weal est moment in the debate. Obama hit it on the head by stating that everyone should be equal under the law. As for marriage, that should be left up to the churches. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.

Edwards shone again on the health care issue. He has the only plan that mandates universal health care coverage. Hillary has the scars from trying in the early 90s. Obama tried to say his plan provides for universal coverage, but it does not mandate it. Round to Edwards.

I still think there are too many people on the stage. Biden, Dodd, Gravel and Kucinich have no chance to win the nomination. What are they doing up there? All they are doing is taking time away from letting us hear from the candidates who have a chance to actually win some delegates.

Floridians are going to have a real voice in the nomination process this time around. Our late January primary is early enough in the process for our votes to count in selecting the nominee. A new Quinnipiac poll has Hillary Clinton with a 22 point lead at 36% over Barack Obama and Al Gore who were tied at 14%. John Edwards registered only 9%.

Here are two things I don't know. I don't know if enough people are paying attention to these debates for them to make much of a difference in anybodies minds. And I don't know enough people who support Hillary Clinton to get her to 36% in a poll of people I know.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

George Bush: Democrats + Politics = Bad

You really have to hand it to these guys sometimes. After all this is the administration that has politicized everything from the CIA, to the Department of Justice to the Drug Czar. You think this might keep them from throwing rocks called politics. But no, it seems that it hasn't slowed them down one little teeny tiny bit.

So what does the Bush administration do when the Democrats are trying to move policy in a direction that Herr Bush doesn't want it to go? Why he accuses the Democrats of playing politics with (fill in the blank) serious issue.

How often have they done this? Why do they do it? And is it working? The answers to these and other questions are below the fold...

How often does the Bush administration accuse the Dems of playing politics with an issue? A Google search of
george bush democrats playing politics
produced 1,950,000 hits. That's right. Nearly two million hits. George Bush has accused the Democrats of playing politics with Iraq, Social Security, homeland security, supporting our troops, trade, terrorism, the federal budget and just about anything else you can imagine. 1,950,000 is a lot of Google hits, particularly for just a 6 1/2 year span. That's roughly 300,000 hits per year of the Bush Administration.

Why do they do this? Is there a method to this madness? The Pew Research Center has been polling on Trends in Political Attitudes and Core Values for 20 years. Over that time period, when Republicans have been in the White House, the number of people agreeing that when something is run by the government it is usually inefficient and wasteful went up. When Bill Clinton was President that number went down. When Bush 41 finished the 12 year Republican run in the White House in 1992, 69% of respondents agreed about government run deals being inefficient and wasteful. By the time Bill Clinton left the White House, that number was down to 53%.

That number is now back up to 62%. Republicans create the self fulfilling prophecy about government being inherently bad. They run government into the ground when they are in charge (See Iraq and Katrina) and then they go
see, we told you government was bad.
They also equate government with politics. So whenever the Dems are trying to do something they don't want to happen, they accuse the Dems of just "playing politics", which is bad.

Who is their target audience for this continuous ranting that Dems are "just playing politics"? Not suprisingly, it is the independent voter. The quintessential "persuadable" voter. Again from Pew:
Republicans, Democrats and independents are all more likely today than five years ago to see the government as wasteful, and less likely to say that elected officials care about what regular people think.
61% of Independents now agree with the proposition that government is inefficient and wasteful (remember - government is run by people playing politics). Less than 1/3 of Independents agree with the proposition
Most elected officials care what people like me think

Elected officials. You know those nasty people who "play politics".

How is all this working for the Republicans? Finally, some good news for us, bad news for the Gopers. Here's what Pew has to say:
the Republican Party ... has rapidly lost public support, particularly among political independents. Faced with an unpopular president who is waging an increasingly unpopular war, the proportion of Americans who hold a favorable view of the Republican Party stands at 41%, down 15 points since January 2001.
And who is leading the charge in this change in attitude towards the GOP? Pew has this to say:
perceptions of the GOP have fallen dramatically among political independents: Among voters with no firm ties to either party, favorable views of the GOP have declined from 55% in 2001, to 46% in 2004, to 40% in the current survey.

Despite the Bushco's desperate attempt to paint the Dems as "bad politicians", the independent voters are just not buying it. Good spin can not make up for bad policy forever.

There is a danger here for the Dems however, and Pew spells it out quite clearly:
ratings of the Democratic Party have remained relatively stable. Despite their significant electoral gains in the 2006 midterms, public ratings of the Democratic Party are nearly identical to where they were in 1994, when they lost 52 House seats to the Republicans. And the GOP’s deteriorating image since Bush’s reelection – down 11 points since December 2004 – has not been mirrored by an improved image of the Democratic Party. The 54% favorability rating Democrats receive today is virtually identical to their 53% rating in December 2004.

If the Democrats want to maintain this advantage that the Gopers have handed to us, it is time to stand and deliver.

Congressman Opie - Wingnut Hero

Adam Putnam, in his new role as Chairman of the House Republican Conference, has become the hero of the wingnut crowd. Republicans in Congress introduced a "John Doe" Amendment to protect Americans from frivolous lawsuits who report suspicious activity. Consider this from the Cassy Fiano Blog:

Florida Rep. Adam Putnam, chairman of the House Republican Conference, said failure to enact the provision will hold "the threat of endless litigation over the heads of the American people.""Democrats are discouraging citizens from reporting suspicious behavior. And that, simply, leaves America vulnerable to terrorist attacks," Mr. Putnam said.

Nancy Pelosi is promising a safer America while simultaneously refusing to protect Americans for speaking up?!If Dems had their way, United 93 would have been successfully hijacked. Richard Reid would have blown up that plane midflight over the Atlantic. People will be much less willing to speak up or act against suspicious behavior when the threat of litigation is hanging over their heads! And for actual terrorists, they know that if their act is foiled, they can just sue us and claim innocence. And they wonder why we question their patriotism, despite their siding with the enemy time and time again.

Florida really doesn't need a Congressman who is the hero of wingnut extremists. It's about time we sent Congressman Opie on to his next career, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

No One They Won't Manipulate

The apparently insatiable Bush Political juggernaut is at it again, or has been at it since day one. Who could possibly tell anymore? It appears that Rove & Co. wrangled very senior Executive Branch appointees to do their political campaign work in 2006. I guess that's not actually a surprise, but God Almighty, shouldn't it be?

This is a fairly complex story, and to my great sadness I doubt it'll get much play, but my hope is that someone will pay attention, for a couple of reasons. One, it is (yet another) perfect, sickening example of how this abjectly political administration will cynically manipulate anyone and anything for gain, and two, I used to work in the Drug Czar's office under the Clinton Administration, so it hits home for me.

What makes it all the worse is that -- at least according to the quote of their spokesman in today's Post -- they will just go ahead and "shrug off" the Hatch Act.

According to the Washington Post:

White House officials arranged for top officials at the Office of National Drug Control Policy to help as many as 18 vulnerable Republican congressmen by making appearances and sometimes announcing new federal grants in the lawmakers' districts in the months leading up to the November 2006 elections, a Democratic lawmaker said yesterday.

Well, I guess we can at least say it's not surprising, right? I understand Chairman Waxman is looking into this, and I applaud his efforts. I would also applaud Swampland at for pinging the story as well.

Something is still missing for me, though. Sara Taylor and Harriet Miers and of course Karl Rove should all be run out of town at best, no question. And probably more of them. But where were our high-ranking Executive Branch officials on this (at the USDA, Transportation, and Commerce Department, too, apparently)? Look, I get that they're all Bush appointees, I know how the process works. But do any of these people harbor any sense that they're public servants? Or are they really just the GOP's servants? Or, God help us, George Bush's servants?

The White House and drug policy officials, however, shrugged that off as a consequence of political reality.

No big shocker there, I guess. But don't you think they could bother to at least try to cover it up? At least a little?

"I don't think it is that surprising that during a campaign season when you're talking about events touting White House programs that Republicans are going to be more likely to appear with us than Democrats," said Tom Riley, a spokesman for the drug policy office. "Teen drug use is down. There has been a lot of progress. We're very happy and eager to do events with anyone. But it is more likely that Republicans are going to stand up with White House officials to talk about those successes."

Bold is mine.

So, okay, Tom Riley, you're admitting that the Bush Administration has essentially transformed non-political offices into overt GOP campaign tools.

I worked for ONDCP Director Lee Brown, and then later Barry McCaffrey in administrative capacities from 1993 through 1998, through the 1996 Clinton re-election campaign. And I didn't lift a finger to help him get re-elected. Neither did Brown or McCaffrey. I was a member of the Arlington (VA) Young Democrats, and aside from attending a few meetings, I didn't do anything else. I had a good job, a Schedule C political appointment in the government and I was putting myself through school at night. I didn't want to jeopardize that, not even with the appearance of impropriety.

The current Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Mr. Walters, a previous Deputy Director of that office under the first George Bush, is a well known political hack. And this proves it, as if proof were somehow needed. Somebody ought to start by asking the careless (at best) Tom Riley to resign, and work their way up to Walters from there.

cross posted at dailykos

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Roadblock Republicans

At the behest of the DCCC, I sent this letter to the editor of the St. Petersburg Times:

This week the Roadblock Republicans in the Tampa Bay Area, Gus Bilirakis,Ginny Brown-Waite, Adam Putnam and Bill Young, all voted against the House Democrats plan to begin redeploying our troops from the civil war in Iraq. That puts them at odds with 71% of the American people according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll taken last weekend.

These Roadblock Republicans are standing shoulder to shoulder with President Bush on Iraq. According to a recent Newsweek poll, that puts them at odds with 68% of the American people who disapprove of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq.

According to other recent polls, the public view of Congress is at an all time low. I suggest to you that the way to improve your opinion of Congress is to get rid of these Roadblock Republicans who stand in the way of what you want, getting our troops out Iraq. Apparently until we get these Roadblock Republicans out of Congress, our troops will be stuck in the civil war in Iraq.
Please add your voice to mine. Let's see if these Roadblock Republicans are really impervious to the wishes of 71% of the American public.

Hillsborough County GOP Corruption: Edna Walters Gets Personal SeaWall While Services Cut for the People.

In Hillsborough County the GOP works in a circle. Donors give to one campaign then get another GOP Commissioner to do the favors. Next time around one hand washes the other. This is one of those follow the dots stories..initially not a headline grabber, but when we think of vital county services like parks, fire stations, libraries and bus service being cut while a connected GOP woman [donor to Al Higginbottham] who throws her weight around gets Brian Blair to use tax-payer money for a donor's friend.....well, it is important to realize who pulls Blair's strings. Read more at TampaBay Democrat.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bill Young Fails to support the Troops - Again

Once again Congressman Bill Young (R-Fl-10) has failed to support the troops. It was horrific to learn that Young knew of the wretched conditions for the troops at Walter Reed Hospital and did nothing. Now just yesterday, Young has failed to support our troops once again.

Young voted no yesterday on the Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act. This bill reads in part:
1) the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 ... authorized the President to use the Armed Forces ... in order to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by the Government of Iraq at that time;

(2) the Government of Iraq which was in power at the time the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 was enacted into law has been removed from power and its leader indicted, tried, convicted, and executed by the new freely-elected democratic Government of Iraq;

(3) the current Government of Iraq does not pose a threat to the United States or its interests; ...

Requirement- The Secretary of Defense shall commence the reduction of the number of Armed Forces in Iraq beginning not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and shall complete the reduction and transition to a limited presence of the Armed Forces in Iraq by not later than April 1, 2008.

Young voted with 190 other Republican Members of Congress to keep our troops in the middle of the civil war in Iraq. So once again, Bill Young has failed to support our troops.

I'm not sure if Young believes that the current Government in Iraq is still a threat to the national security of the United States or not. What I do know is that if Young really believed in supporting our troops, he would have voted to get them out of Iraq as quickly and as responsibly as possible. Instead, Young voted no.

A Picture To Use - Over and Over Again

I just posted the following comment on Jeffrey Feldman's DKos diary Frameshop: The Photo The GOP Wants To Hide :
The Gopers have been trying very hard to make inroads with African Americans here in Florida. Florida Kossacks should take full advantage of these photos in making our case to the black community.
The photo is of the Republican Presidential candidates who showed up at the NAACP Convention. All one of them - Tom Tancredo.

So the next time you hear of GOP efforts to make inroads into the African American community, make sure and get this photo out there, along with the message:
Here's how much the Republican Party really cares about you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fasano Just Says Yes to Slush Fund

Last Sunday, the St. Petersburg Times reported that state Senator Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey) declined the 3% pay raise that state lawmakers received starting July 1st. Fasano said:
I'm just a believer that we didn't run for this job for the salary
Sounds like he is really thrifty with the taxpayers money, huh?

There may be another reason Fasano doesn't need the measly $2,400 raise. Since July 2005, Fasano's Committee for Floridians for Principled Government has paid the Senator $19,000 in "reimbursements."

In just the second quarter of this year, the Committee for Floridians for Principled Government received $39,000 in contributions. Senator Fasano, the Chair of the Senate Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee is the registered agent for the Committee for Floridians for Principled Government. So who is providing this largess for Senator Fasano?

In the latest reporting period, $5,000 came from lawyer / lobbyist Ron Book. Among Book's clients is URS Corp., the company that oversaw construction of the elevated lanes of Tampa's Crosstown Expressway. You know, those elevated lanes where the piers collapsed. Another $2,500 came from the Florida Transportation Builders Association. Yep, these are the guys who the state pays to build the roads.

In just the last three months road building interests have paid $7,500 into Senator Fasano's slush fund. That's three times the raise the Senator has foregone. Which raises the question. How much has the Senator's frugality really cost us?

Blog Florida Blue Logo Contest Winner

We have a winner in the Blog Florida Blue Logo Contest. And here it is:

Many thanks to Storm Bear for submitting the winning logo.

So, what are we going to do with this fantastic logo? Well, we have a lot of work to do to Blog Florida Blue , so let's talk about it below the fold...

First, I would once again like to thank all the very talented Kossacks out there who submitted designs for the Blog Florida Blue Logo. As one who can't draw a straight line with a ruler, I am in awe of all the creative talent in this community.

As I stated in the Blog Florida Blue diary back in May:
I'd like to invite all Florida bloggers to adopt this brand name (and now this logo) whenever they are blogging on the effort to elect Democrats and build the Democratic Party in Florida. Blog Florida Blue can be a powerful branding device linking otherwise disparate efforts from Key West to Pensacola.
There are a lot of interesting things going on in the Florida blogosphere and the Florida Netroots these days. In June, we had the Bloggers Luncheon at the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) Jefferson Jackson Weekend. There are too many things going on at the Florida Progressive Coalition to mention in a single diary. One item of particular interest is Florida Progressive Radio. This is done through Blog Talk Radio. Their second show had FDP Internet Director Phillip Perry as their special guest. I particularly liked FPC guru Ken Quinell's Crashing the Gates in Florida Diary.

In the end though, the point of all this activity is to get more Democrats elected to public office. Since this is a Presidential election cycle, there is a huge amount of interest being paid to that particular process, and rightly so. However, if we are really going to be successful in Blogging Florida Blue, we are going to have to think longer term and more strategically. Sites like Build Florida's DEC's can help us do that, because we definitely need help building our party infrastructure. We just had a special election for an open Florida State Senate seat (SD-3). This election did not go the way we wanted for any number of reasons. There are a lot of good diaries that gave tactical reasons why we were not successful. In Reflections on SD-3 , I take a more strategic look at the loss.

We also need to pay a lot more attention to "building our bench" here in Florida. Local elected officials are like stocking your farm team with up and coming talent. Most of the best candidates for higher office have had prior public service experience, mostly as elected public officials on the local level. Congresswoman Kathy Castor was a Hillsborough County commissioner first. State Representative Rick Kriseman was a St. Petersburg City Council Member before getting elected to the Legislature. And if you think losing an election is the end of a political career, think again. The best political move our Governor Charlie Crist ever made was taking on a losing effort against US Senator Bob Graham.

We have a lot of work left to do to Blog Florida Blue. But we have a great launching pad coming up in October at the Florida Democratic Party Convention in Orlando. We are going to have the Bloggers Conference as an official part of the agenda. And we are looking for a special guest speaker to keynote the Bloggers Conference. We have already started putting out feelers to get a certain guy named Markos from DailyKos to give the keynote address. So I just want to end this little missive with a shout out:

Attend our effing Convention Kos!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Every Journey Starts Somewhere

The Blog Florida Blue Logo Contest was a rousing success. Thank you all for participating. There will be more about the results of the contest later. But that is not the subject of today's diary.

Today we are going to talk about the work ahead. However, we are going to do that by taking a look at where we are starting from. It's pretty hard to get to where you want to go if you don't know where you are starting from.

So, with that in mind, follow me down the rabbit hole....

Recently, Media Matters and Campaign for America's Future completed a new joint report called, "The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America is a Myth." meowmissy has a diary up on DKos that has a lot of the information from this report. In describing the report, Justin Cole, Online Outreach Coordinator for Media Matters for America, had this to say:
It's a substantial report that will help drive home the point that America – regardless of how the media portrays it – is a progressive nation that
is getting more progressive, including in Florida

Now to those of us living here that may sound like a startling statement. However, Mr. Cole has supplied us with Florida specific polling to support this seemingly outlandish claim. Consider just these three elements of this polling:

  • “Providing health insurance for people who do not already have it—should the federal government spend more on it, the same as now, less, or no money at all?”
    Percent answering “More”: 71%
  • "Providing financial assistance to public elementary and secondary schools—should the federal government spend more on it, the same as now, less, or no money at all?”
    Percent answering “more”: 71%
  • “The federal government banning all abortions—do you favor or oppose the federal government doing this?”
    Percent opposed: 67%

Do these results surprise you? Are these the results that you would expect in a state where:

  • Only 2 of 7 statewide elected posts are held by Democrats
  • The Congressional Delegation is 16 Republicans and 9 Democrats
  • 42 out of 120 House seats are held by Democrats
  • 14 of 40 Senate seats are held by Democrats

So we seem to have a pretty progressive electorate given the polling results noted above. That ought to put some wind in our sails as we go into the 2008 election cycle. This is particularly true looking back at the notable successes we had in 2006. This gives rise to the question: What do we do with this information?

Here are my suggestions:

  • We try to run as many good candidates as we can against as many vulnerable Republican seats as we can find.

Good candidates are preferably people with prior elected experience, or absent that, a compelling personal story. They also should be able to raise substantial funds and / or a major grassroots effort on their own. Vulnerable Republican seats are open seats, seats held by freshmen, or seats where the incumbent has an approval rating below 50%.

  • We make sure that these good candidates talk about their progressive values.

Remember that polling data? 71% of the electorate is for doing more to provide health care to those in need. That's compassion and a sense of community. We should be talking about that.

71% of the electorate is for doing more for public education. Quality public education is the great equalizer in this country. That's fairness. We should be talking about that.

67% are against the government banning all abortions. That's freedom. We should be talking about that.

The numbers tell us the public is on our side. We should be sure they know that we are on their side.

That is where we should start our journey in our quest to Blog Florida Blue.

Monday, July 9, 2007


The Blog Florida Blue Logo Contest is up on DailyKos now. Please vote for your favorite. Any and all comments are also welcome.


Friday, July 6, 2007

Amnesty and Obstruction of Justice

There is some good news to come out of the Scooter Libby sentence commutation. We may have finally gotten the criminal act we need to impeach George W Bush!

There is some bad news too. To find the historical basis for the bad news, you'll have to follow me below the fold.

First, I just want to say that there are way too many juicy frames out there to use in connection with the Libby sentence commutation. My particular favorite is to refer to the commutation of Libby's sentence as amnesty. This then plays into all sorts of other possibilities. For example, all those R candidates who trashed the immigration bill as amnesty could be in for a very hard time. That is if it turns out they were in favor of amnesty for Libby. Can't you just see it now:
Fred Thompson (or fill in the name of you not favorite R candidate here) was against amnesty before he was for it.
There is going to be way too much fun to be had with that.

The far more serious frame though is the obstruction of justice frame. This frame could just be our smoking gun for impeachment. Here's how this goes. Scooter Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice for lying in the Plamegate investigation. Technically by continuing to refuse to tell the truth, he is participating in an ongoing obstruction of justice. By commuting Libby's sentence, presumably as a quid pro quo for Libby's continued refusal to tell the truth, Bush has actively participated in the obstruction of justice. In other words, a cover up. Remember, it was not the break in at the Watergate complex that did Richard Nixon in, it was the cover up.

Here is a further clarification on the obstruction of justice frame. It is in fact totally within the power of the President to use the clemency powers granted by the constitution as the President shall see fit to do. However, if that power is used in furtherance of a crime (the obstruction of justice), that becomes an abuse of power.

The first Article of Impeachment against Nixon reads in part:
in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice
So that's the good news.

Now here is the bad news. The Watergate break in occurred June 17, 1972. Nixon resigned August 8, 1974. That is a span of 782 days. Between today, July 6, 2007 and January 20, 2009, there are only 564 days. Is that enough time to conduct an impeacment inquiry in the House and a trial in the Senate? Because, I do not think that George W. Bush will pull a Nixon and resign. And remember, Nixon resigned upon the vote out of the House Judiciary Committee adoptoing articles of impeachment. He did not even go through an impeachment debate in the full House, much less a trial in the Senate.

Now, there is a bright side to this. It was on July 13, 1973 that the existance of Nixon's White House taping system was made public. This led to the discovery of the "smoking gun" tape that gave the answer to the famous question, "What did the President know, and when did he know it?" The span between that date and Nixon's resignation was only 391 days. So, by tht measure, there may be enough time.

Now for the really strange part. The number of days between the day Bill Clinton was deposed in the Paula Jones case (January 17, 1998), and the day he was acquitted in the Senate (February 12, 1999), was 391 days.

Maybe that means something.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Resolve . . . that this nation

years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal

That is what we are celebrating today. Is it strange that on this Independence Day that the title and lead quote for this diary should come from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address? . After all, this is the day of celebration for that other document, The Declaration of Independence.

Follow me below the fold and we'll see why this is not strange at all.

Where did Lincoln get the inspiration for the phrase "conceived in liberty"? Well, from none other than here:
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
"And dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal"? Here again:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal
So, why is all this really relevant today? Because of these phrases:
testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . . can long endure. ... we here highly resolve . . . that this nation, . . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.

For we are constantly engaged in a struggle to ensure
that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.
This is no more true on any other day than today. Are all men still created equal? Not when amnesty for Scooter Libby shows that some are more equal than others. It is no more true on any other day than today, when our leaders abandon Habeus Corpus and assert their right to illegal wiretapping of American citizens.

We are , each of us here engaged in a great struggle
testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated . . . can long endure

so I ask each of you here to join me to
highly resolve . . . that this nation, . . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Last Call - Logos for Blog Florida Blue

Okay, this is it! last call for logo submissions for the Blog Florida Blue logo. You can check out some of the designs submitted already here. Others can be found at the Florida NetRoots Yahoo Group site under files.

If you are at all interested in submitting a design for the Blog Florida Blue Logo, please do it soon. I would like to hold an online vote maybe next week.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Blogger Influence

Tho a Canadian study I believe this analysis in First Monday has much of interest to us.

Election bloggers: Methods for determining political influence
by Greg Elmer, Peter Malachy Ryan, Zach Devereaux, Ganaele Langlois, Joanna Redden, and Fenwick McKelvey

Political conventions, once the highlight on the tele–visual calendar, are slowly giving way to less visible, digital forms of democracy, and now more recently, online forms of communication and organizing. Conventions are expensive and time–consuming. In many jurisdictions, the grandiose party convention has begun to mirror general elections, with electronic voting for individual party members slowly replacing the spectacle of hung–over delegates dancing and chanting on the floor of convention centres. As we see in this paper, even the very notion of closed door, centralized politics and “back room” party operatives working in political capitals, is being challenged by digital networks. This paper discusses the impact of a digital back room politics, and how one might evaluate the influence of its political actors — bloggers.