Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lee Nelson Running For Hillsborough County Super of Elections

Democrat Lee Nelson will official announce his candidacy for Supervisor of Elections tomorrow.

This Wednesday, August 29th at 11:00 a.m., I will formally announce my run for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections. The site for this announcement is the Town 'N Country Library, 5455 W. Waters Avenue, Suite 208, Tampa 33634.

This date was selected for its historic commemoration - the day Buddy Johnson announced he lost 245 votes in early voting in 2004!

Please come - we will have an area for live blogging, should you desire to do so.

Lunch will follow at Bucca di Beppo. Maps will be given out at the library.

Hillsborough County needs a responsible SOE. Buddy Johnson. Polling stations had violations under Johnson's watch. Johnson also screwed up the petition count for the Hillsborough County Mayor ballot. The list goes on and on.

There will be an area for liveblogging at Nelson's press conference.

Good luck to Nelson.

Let's All Take a Deep Breath

The recent decision by the Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Committee to possibly strip Florida of all its delegates to the Democratic National Convention has certainly created a stir. The newspapers and the blogs are just a Buzz with all sorts of sky is falling articles.

I propose we just all back away from the keyboard and take a deep breath. There, doesn't that feel better? Now let's talk about what's really important in this whole primary mess. Florida's Democratic voters are going to vote in a Presidential Preference Primary on January 29th. This is going to occur before the nomination is a done deal. Florida 's Democratic voices will be heard in a significant way.

The last time Florida Dems were in a position to make a significant impact on the presidential nominee selection process was in the 1992 cycle. At the Florida Democratic Party Convention, a little known hick Governor from Arkansas won a straw poll. Straw polls are otherwise known as "officially meaningless beauty contests" in the MSM. Bill Clinton took that straw poll victory and ran all the way to the White House with it. Anybody want to ask Bill if he thought it was a "meaningless beauty contest"?

So, the good news is that Florida's Democrats will have a significant voice in the selection of the Democratic nominee for President. Delegates have nothing to do with it. The candidates do not go to Iowa and New Hampshire for the delegates. They go for the momentum that can be captured from good showings. Delegates or no, the candidates this cycle will kill for the momentum going into February 5th that an impressive showing in Florida will create. The rest of this whole fight about delegates is officially meaningless.

Let's take a closer look at exactly what happened this weekend in Washington and what it all really means - or doesn't. From the New York Times:

The Democratic National Committee ... voted Saturday to refuse to seat any Florida Democrat at the Democratic presidential convention in 2008 if the state party did not delay the date of its 2008 primary to conform to the party’s nominating calendar.

The committee gave Florida Democrats 30 days to propose a primary date that conformed with Democratic rules prohibiting all but four states from holding their primaries or caucuses before Feb. 5.
So, from the newspaper of record, that's what happened. The DNC "gave Florida Democrats 30 days" to conform to the party's nominating calendar rules. That's what happened - we got yet another 30 day extension to submit a delegate selection plan which conforms to the Party's rules. Nothing more, nothing less. So, let's make this deep breath number two.

Why is the DNC taking such a seemingly hard line? How about because the presidential primary system is a friggin' mess. The DNC spent considerable time and energy attempting to retool the primary process for this cycle. In belated recognition that perhaps Iowa and New Hampshire do not really represent America and the Democratic Party well, the DNC added Nevada caucuses and a South Carolina primary to the early state selection process. They then told everybody else they could not go before February 5th.

So what happened to all these carefully laid plans? Two things. First, this election cycle is the first since Herbert Hoover was elected that does not feature a sitting President or Vice President from one party or the other. In other words, we have a truly wide open race in both parties.

Second, the frustration with the present primary system reached the boiling point all over the country. Despite the delegate increase incentives in the Democratic Party, almost every state has moved their primary up to February 5th. OK, it only seems like it, but it is not far from the truth.

Florida's Republican dominated Legislature, with it's new Vice President possibility touted Republican Governor decided to go one better. The Florida Legislature passed a bill, and the Republican Governor signed it into law, setting January 29th as the date for the Presidential Preference Primary here in Florida. Yep, setting election dates is the job of the state legislature here in Florida, not the political parties.

Now Adam Smith is going to say that a Democrat introduced the bill moving the primary up to January 29. Ding, ding, ding. Give Adam the boobie prize. Yes, the Republican leadership in the legislature did find a dumber than a box of rocks freshman Democratic Senator to introduce the bill. I hope he got what they promised him. Adam, how about having your crack research team check out how many Democratic sponsored bills that did not have the full support of the Republican Leadership even got a Committee hearing? Let's put that red herring to rest. This was a Republican bill all the way.

But, but, but all the Dem legislators voted for this bill. Well, yeah. Included in the final bill was a provision to give the voters of Florida a voter verifiable paper ballot. This had to be about the number one priority of Democrats, to know that their votes are going to count. No Dem was going to vote against that. What, you think all Republicans are stupid? Let's make this deep breath number three.

Why is the DNC taking such a seemingly hard line on this issue? Not all the states are done tinkering with their primary dates yet. From the New York Times:

Committee members made it clear that they wanted to send a message to any state that might be looking to change its primary; the vote came as Michigan leaders are looking to move that state’s primary to Jan. 15.
The DNC action was as much about scaring Michigan off of these plans as it was about Florida. The DNC is hoping that come the end of September, Michigan will have decided it is too late to move their primary up into January.

Now for those of you who actually are worried about their delegate credentials , um , er, disfranchising the voters, there is this from the Florida Democratic Party:
(FDP Chair Karen)Thurman suggested the penalties may be meaningless because the winning presidential nominee "will make the final decision on whether there are delegates or not.''
That's right. Under DNC rules, the presumptive nominee will take control of the Democratic National Convention, including the Credentials Committee. So Florida Dems will vote on January 29th in a binding Presidential Preference Primary. At the end of the day, the presumptive nominee will have the final say on the seating of delegates.

So, get your favorite credentials holding lanyard out of moth balls. Quit bitching at each other. Take a deep breath and help us

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bill Nelson in Bradenton Today

Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson is holding another Town Hall meeting in the Bay Area today. Nelson will be at the Bradenton City Hall at 3:30 this afternoon.

Earlier this month, Nelson held a Town Hall meeting in Pasco County. That's where he ran into Susan S. The result of that encounter was a diary by Susan atop the Rec List at DailyKos.

As Susan wrote it on DKos, that encounter went like this:
Nelson decided that since no one else had brought up the Iraq War, he would tell us his take on it. Unfortunately for him, he began his explanation with a disclaimer about how he and the Congress had been lied to about the intelligence going into the war. Well that was it for me. I yelled out to him:

"Then why, when you know they can't be trusted, when you know they lie to you, did you vote for the FISA bill that gives the incompetent Bush administration more power to spy on American citizens?"
Then, when the St. Petersburg Times mischaracterized her confrontation with Nelson, Susan wrote an excellent letter taking the Times to task for their careless reporting.

So, fellow Kossacks, anybody going to be in Bradenton today?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Leaving Money on the Table and Kids Uninsured

In a story in today's Orlando Sentinel, we get the following intertwined pieces of information:
Florida ranks 43rd in the country when it comes to children's health-insurance coverage, said Dr. Edward Zissman, chief executive officer of Altamonte Pediatric Associates.
And from the same source, there is this:
Last year, Florida returned $20 million in 2005 federal matching dollars because it did not enroll enough children.

The federal grant matches 71 cents for every 29 cents the state spends, said Tara Klimek, a spokeswoman for state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink. Since 1998 the state has returned $140 million, she said.
What can be done about this abysmal situation? State Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, has an idea. Randolph called on Gov. Charlie Crist to include KidCare reform in next month's special session.
"We've got to put this on the calendar or face losing federal matching dollars," Randolph said. "For every dollar we refuse to put in . . . we send $3 back to Washington."
The US House of Representatives recently passed an expansion of the SCHIP program. However, Florida's Republican Representatives voted against this bill. The DCCC responded by launching radio ads targeting these Roadblock Republicans. At least one of the targets, Old Bill Young, did not take kindly to being targeted. Bill Young
angrily pointed to a new radio ad campaign this week by Democrats accusing him of opposing increased benefits in Medicare for seniors.
Maybe Charlie Crist will have a more temperate response to the health care needs of Florida's children?

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Face(s) of the Democratic Party

I purposely did not embed this as a YouTube link. That's because I just want you to focus on this picture.

What is remarkable about it? Is it the words that were said on this program? Follow me below the fold...

On Sunday, August 11, 2007, Markos Moulitsas and Harold Ford Jr. faced off on Meet the Press to talk about the future of the Democratic Party. The words that were spoken on this program have sparked dozens of diaries and probably thousands of comments by now.

That a conversation between the founder of DailyKos and the Chairman of the DLC would even be on Meet the Press is remarkable enough in and of itself. But take another look at this image. What do you see? I see a 37 year old black man (Harold Ford, Jr) and a 36 year old Hispanic / Greek man (Markos Moulitsas). I see the future (and the present) of the Democratic Party. This is the Democratic Party whose contenders for the Presidential nomination this cycle include a woman, an African American and an Hispanic.

This is the Democratic Party that always has and still does look more like America than the other guys. The values of the Democratic Party are the values of the vast majority of Americans. This is the Democratic Party that proudly displays its diversity. This is the Democratic Party that shares the values of The Progressive Majority in this country.

So take another look at that picture. While you are doing so, remember that the values that unite us are greater than the issues that divide us. If we can remember that, we will retake the White House in 2008 and expand our majorities in Congress.

Hispanics Up for Grabs

From Progressive America at Daily Kos comes this diary based on a Miami Herald article:


The Democrats need to find and support good state and local candidates in 2008, but we also have to build our image as a party. I hope all of us are working with our DECs to make that happen.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Susan S - On the Money Again

Susan S, whose courage to stand up for the truth translated into a Top of The Rec List Diary on DailyKos, has done it again. After the St. Petersburg Times mischaracterized her confrontation with Sen. Bill Nelson on FISA at Nelson's Pasco County Town Hall Meeting on Monday, Susan did not take it sitting down.

Susan wrote this excellent letter to the editor of the Times. The Times article characterized Susan's challenge to Nelson this way:
Why did he vote for a bill that allows expanded secret eavesdropping of foreign terrorists' phone calls?
Susan, in her letter, points out that her actual questions was:
why did he trust the Bush administration with expanded power to spy on American citizens without a warrant?
Susan's letter goes on to what, for me, is the money quote:
My outrage and that being expressed in editorials around the country is not about spying on foreign terrorists, it's about spying on American citizens.

This type of inaccurate reporting by the mainstream media (on the meaning of the FISA vote) is exactly the reason that an embarrassing number of American citizens still think Saddam was involved in the planning of 9/11. It might also explain why the public hasn't taken to the streets with pitchforks over the decimation of our Constitution by the Bush administration and its enablers in Congress.
I stopped writing this post to watch Kos and Harold Ford on Meet The Press. One of the points that stuck me in that "debate" was Markos saying that his biggest accomplishment was providing a forum where politicians and citizens could could converse without the mainstream "media filter". After MTP, I watched Harold Troxler on Brendan McLaughlin's excellent show, Flashpoint. At the end of their discussion McLuaghlin asked Troxler about the future of the printed newspaper. Troxler was quite right in describing the need amongst the public for good journalistic information. Maybe the newspaper poohbahs ought to be thinking more about the filters they put on that information.

Thank you, Susan, for exposing that MSM filter. I also want to thank you for giving credit where credit is due. You rightly pointed out that Congresswoman Kathy Castor voted against the FISA bill, as did the vast majority of the Democrats in Congress. Now we just need to keep working on our recalcitrant minority Dems.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Day Conservatism Died

I was reading this comment in Vyan's excellent diary: Gitmo Lawyers Challenge FISA Bill in Court :
Right-wing could mean libertarian. (3+ / 0-)

Genuine libertarians are appalled by the administration's assault on civil liberties.
It struck me that true Conservatives would be as appalled by the Bush Administration's behavior as true Progressives. So where is the outrage from the conservative side? When was the day that Conservatism died?

To try to find out, follow me...

To begin my search for the day Conservatism died, I went looking for what a live conservative would look like. I came across this 50 year old document, The Essence of Conservatism, written by Russell Kirk in 1957:
Conservative principles shelter the hopes of everyone in society. And conservatism is a social concept important to everyone who desires equal justice and personal freedom and all the lovable old ways of humanity.
Look again at these words used to define conservatism by the man who:
gave shape to the amorphous post-World War II conservative movement
These words bear repeating:
conservatism is a social concept important to everyone who desires equal justice and personal freedom
Does anybody believe that really describes the so called conservatives of today? And if not, who killed those conservatives?

So called "social" or "family values" conservatives seem to rule the political right today. What are their values and how do they compare to Russell Kirk? It didn't take a lot of digging to find out. From About.com - Conservative Politics: US we get first What Conservatives Are Not :
A little look at some misrepresentations of conservatives and conservative views - to dispel the myths and smear efforts and to set things straight.
Interesting that today's "conservatives" start off by defining themselves as what they are not as opposed to Kirk's:
conservatism is a social concept important to everyone who desires equal justice and personal freedom and all the lovable old ways of humanity
Pressing on, we get again from About.com - Conservative Politics: US, Conservative Values Part 1: Social Issues:
Social conservatives are concerned about maintaining a social order where the family can stay strong and healthy.
Interesting again that today's conservatives are:
concerned about maintaining ... order
and not about equal justice and personal freedom of Kirk's conservatives of 50 years ago.

But there is more. We also have a discussion about today's fiscal conservatives:
Fiscal conservatives want to encourage low taxes, free trade, and small government.
Really? Let's look at this a little more closely.

On Business and the Economy we get:
The government should avoid meddling in business. ... Class warfare should be avoided and unions should remain accountable to the workers they represent.
There's freedom - for business. But be sure to avoid that class warfare thing and definitely hold unions accountable. Conservative?

It gets better. On Energy and Environment:
The United States government should enact policies that would encourage smart energy use and an increased supply of clean, efficient energy sources. ...The government should open access to domestic oil sources and thus reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. It should eliminate policies that place undue restrictions on companies with little benefit to the environment.
Well, that started off pretty good, but quickly deteriorated into that don't mess with them oil drillin' fellers conservatism. Apparently alternative, renewable energy is not on the agenda of today's conservative values.

And finally on Spending, we get:
government spending should be limited to activities that are are outlined by the Constitution
they then go on to quote Thomas Jefferson about government spending. The same Thomas Jefferson who executed the Louisiana Purchase, the authority for which can be found nowhere in the Constitution.

The conservatism of the post World War II conservatives is dead in this country. The social conservatives and the Grover Norquists' of today have killed it. In place of the:
equal justice and personal freedom
of the old, dead conservatives, we have today's conservatives who value:

maintaining ... order

low taxes, free trade, and small government

The government should avoid meddling in business

The government should open access to domestic oil sources

government spending should be limited to activities that are are outlined by the Constitution
Nowhere in today's lists of conservative values and principles do we see the concept of equal justice and personal freedom.

I don't know what day conservatism died in America. But it is most assuredly dead.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Budget Balancing on the Backs of the Needy

Poor pregnant women; hospitals and poor immigrants; missing children; and law abiding citizens. What do all these groups have in common? They are all about to bear the brunt of the state budget balancing measures. Maybe.

The Miami Herald has a story today about various proposals being floated for balancing the budget when the legislature meets for its special session in September. Cost-cutting recommendations from more than two dozen state agencies are due to Gov. Charlie Crist and legislative leaders today. These measures are needed help close a more than $1 billion budget shortfall, due to a sluggish economy that has sapped tax collections. Legislators will meet to decide what to cut on Sept. 18 when they convene for a three-week special session.

Lets repeat what is causing all this scrooge like activity:
a sluggish economy that has sapped tax collections.
Make that sales tax collections. This tax revenue fluctuates notoriously in line with the Florida economy. With the slowness in the housing market spilling over into other parts of the economy, state services are facing the budget cutting axe. And still we have certain state legislators who think replacing the property tax with a much higher state sales tax is a good idea.

Here's what would be a good idea: Legislators who think this is a good idea should be turned out of office to find another line of work. Another good idea? Get in touch with your state legislators to make sure they know you do not want the most needy in the state to bear the largest burden in this special session of service cutting.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Majority of the Majority

Progressives have been mightily unhappy with the performance of the newly elected Democratic Congress. While there have been some successes such as the minimum wage increase, ethics reform and the expansion of SCHIP, the children's health care program, there have been some notable failures and setbacks.

The failure to change course in Iraq and the miserable kneel down to Bush on warrantless wiretapping are two of the biggest failures. And yet these things happened with majorities of Democrats voting against them.

When Dennis Hastert was Speaker of the House, he had a rule. He called it the Majority of the Majority. What was this rule and how could it help the Democrats legislate as Democrats? Follow me below the fold...

In a little noticed speech in 2003 Hastert said:
The job of speaker is not to expedite legislation that runs counter to the wishes of the majority of his majority.
What is the significance of this rule? How did Hastert use it? The rule first gained wide spread notice in late 2004. That is when the House scuttled a vote on a Conference Report on the Intelligence Reform Bill. Here is what the Washington Post had to say:
Hastert elected to keep it from reaching a vote, even though his aides said it could have passed with a minority of GOP members and strong support from the chamber's 206 Democrats.
Hastert was, of course, roundly criticized by House Democrats back then. Then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:
(Republicans) like to talk about bipartisanship. But when the opportunity came to pass a truly bipartisan bill -- one that would have passed both the House and Senate overwhelmingly and would have made the American people safer -- they failed to do it.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has apparently not changed her opinion of the Majority of the Majority rule. After the Iraq supplemental funding bill was passed without withdrawal time lines in May, despite 61 percent of House Democrats voting against it, Pelosi said:
I’m the Speaker of the House. I have to take into consideration something broader than the majority of the majority.
Something broader than the majority of the majority? Suppose the Democrats enforced the majority of the majority rule back in May? No supplemental Iraq funding bill without time lines would have been brought to the House floor for a vote. This would have necessitated a decrease in troop levels or a complete withdrawal, something 66 % of Americans support.

Something broader than the majority of the majority? How about the Constitution of the United States? 77% of Democrats opposed the so called Protect America Act giving the Bush administration more warrantless wiretapping powers. Under the majority of the majority rule, this bill would not have even come up for a vote.

Democrats have it within their power to make change in America. They were elected to the majority in 2006 to make change in America. If they would use the majority of the majority rule, we would have change in America.

Shield Law a Step Closer

I posted a diary on Kos some time ago about the Bush administration attacking a proposed shield law that would also cover bloggers. It attracted very little attention from the Kos community - the ones I expected to be most interested in this new law.

The so called "Shield" has not been codified at the federal level and has always been a gray area with many journalists suffering the consequences when refusing to give up their sources.

The fact that this real Federal Shield Law might be extended to cover the blogging community should have, IMNSHO, been of great interest to the blogisphere. Well I've been wrong before and I was wrong yet again. Now that the law is a step closer to becoming a reality I hope the blogisphere will become more interested and who knows maybe even provide some support for the Law.

We have lost some ground already in that the afore mentioned Bush administration attack has resulted in limiting the shield to "ad supported" bloggers. I fear that if we do not become more actively and vocally involved, bloggers will be dropped from the Shield Law altogether.

WASHINGTON--A congressional panel on Wednesday voted, against the Bush administration's wishes, to shield journalists including advertising-supported bloggers from having to reveal their confidential sources in many situations.

Come on folks there has never been a real federal shield law much less one that recognizes bloggers as JOURNALISTS.

In response to concerns raised by the Bush administration and other politicians, the revised bill attempts to exclude the "casual blogger" from reaping those benefits by stipulating the protections apply only to those who derive "financial gain or livelihood" from the journalistic activity, Boucher said Wednesday. That broad rule could, however, include part-time writers who receive even a trickle of revenue from Google Ads or Blogads.com.

LINK to the full story by ZDnet News.

LINK to the house bill H.R. 2102

(cross posted on Kos)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Kevin Beckner: Candidate For HCC District 6

Democrat Kevin Beckner is running for the Hillsborough County Commission. He is attempting to unseat Brian Blair. Breckner is a former law enforcement officer and President of Leadership Tampa Bay. He is running on a platform of growth management and environmental protection. Although, his form of environmentalism is very business-friendly.

Listen to him on the wetlands issue: "The wetlands serve this environment in ways we may not understand. If we can streamline this [development approval] process and make it easier for developers, I'm for that. But everybody needs to come to the table" to ensure that wetlands aren't harmed as a result.

Here is his environmental position from his web site.

Our environmental resources are one of our most precious commodities. Once damaged or destroyed, they can rarely be replenished or restored. Each of us are charged with being good stewards of our environmental resources. As a community, we must thoughtfully balance future land use with respect to our environment, develop and implement prudent plans for cleaner air and water conservation, and protect our beaches, rivers, and streams from potentially harmful and toxic waste.

As County Commissioner, I will support economically feasible "green" initiatives that both enhance the quality and preservation of our environment and provide the community with short and long term economic benefits.

"Feasible" means Beckner will view how green initiatives affect corporations.

Beckner is gay and a member of Equality Florida. He participated in a March Gay Pride parade.

Tampa Bay Democrat has a post on Beckner's candidacy.

Beckner is asking supporters to sign the petition to get his name on the ballot. He needs 6,634 signatures.

Susan S Tops The List

Our own Florida Kossack, Susan S has a diary atop the Rec List right now at DailyKos. Susan attended the Pasco County Town Hall meeting of Senator Bill Nelson today. She was all prepared to ask him about his vote on the FISA bill last Friday. He didn't call on her. He did talk about how he was lied to to get him to vote for the Iraq war.

That was it for Susan. She did what any good citizen is supposed to do. She called Nelson to account. You need to read her diary, if you haven't already. As Susan was posting her diary, I was writing one here about Nelson's prior town hall meeting that morning in Pinellas. I was styling my meager effort as a (mostly) straight up news story. That's pretty much how I attended the town hall, just as a reporter. Susan attended the Pasco town hall as a citizen. Susan had the better idea.

Ironically, I ended my story on the Pinellas town hall with this:
Nelson continued his vacation with another Town Hall meeting later in the day in Pasco County. Enjoy your "vacation", Senator Nelson.
I wondered how much he enjoyed it when Susan was done with him.

Susan, you rock!

Bill Nelson Pinellas Town Hall

Bill Nelson started off his August Congressional "vacation" by holding a Town Hall meeting in Pinellas County today. Nelson answered questions for one hour from the over 150 in attendance. One remarkable thing about this event? Nobody asked about Iraq.

The first question Nelson fielded did allude to the Bush administrations trampling of civil rights in the guise of the global war on terror. Nelson professed not to know about a controversial classified Executive Order recently issued by Bush. He did talk about this weekend's FISA vote however. He stressed that what was done was a temporary measure that sunsets in six months. Nelson went on to say that the legislation was meant to protect the warrant requirement for US Persons, but not for foreign sources. Nelson lambasted the "mishandling" of the Terrorist Surveillance Program for the last five years. There was also the chance to bash embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Nelson related that one of the biggest sticking points in the bill was the administrations' insistence that the Attorney General be in charge of certifying compliance for this program. Nelson said this was unacceptable to a bipartisan group of Senators. The solution? Having the Director of National Intelligence share this responsibility.

OK, now we have a man that nobody believes and the man in charge of spying certifying compliance for this spy program. Some compromise. And as the 2008 election will be all that much closer in 6 months, does anybody expect that the Congress will show more backbone then?

The questions next turned to domestic issues. Nelson said that a wholesale reform of health insurance delivery would be coming "down the road". Nelson, a former Florida Insurance Commissioner explained that the principle of insurance - spreading risk over large pools of people - was just not working in health insurance. The reason - health insurance pools are too fragmented. The current system only seems to work, if at all, for very large employers. Nelson did tout the recent passage of the children's health care program (SCHIP). Nelson also said that legislation would be introduced soon to induce health insurers to provide more mental health benefits. In response to a question about support for a breast cancer research program, Nelson related how on his space shuttle flight, his primary experiment was for cancer research. He did this shortly after a very dear friend had died from breast cancer.

Nelson got a couple of questions from local elected officials, who were well represented in the audience. The first came from a Gulfport City Commissioner who asked for help regarding changes in the rules for Community Development Block Grants. Nelson responded that his office would be happy to assist in helping communities obtain the grants, but seemed to miss the impact of the change in rules on these communities. He did take the opportunity to point out how the property tax "reform" in the Florida Legislature has impacted his office. He is now getting deluged with requests for Federal funding from local governments. Seems the local governments are turning to the Federal government for funding projects and programs that were once funded by their own property tax revenues or by the state.

The other question was from St. Petersburg City Council Member Renee Flowers, who also is the President of the Florida League of Cities this year. Flowers asked for Nelson's help in securing adequate funds for affordable housing, including the re-authorization of Hope VI grants. Nelson said that the prospects were grim for passage due to the requirement in the Senate to get 60 votes to move a bill. Nelson said that as long as the administration opposed a funding level, Bush's Republican enablers in the Senate would make sure that the 60 votes would not be forthcoming.

Nelson was asked about the upcoming re authorization of No Child Left Behind. His initial response was that he was in favor of fully funding NCLB, something the Bush Administration has not done. As he continued to talk about NCLB, however, he seemed to be talking himself into some major modifications to the program, if he was to vote for re authorization at all.

When asked about outsourcing of jobs, Nelson responded that there were no simple answers in this complicated, interconnected world. He did say he favored changing the tax code to remove rewards for companies off shoring jobs. He went on to say that in order to remain competitive in a global economy, America's advantage would be its intellectual capital, which all comes back to education.

The final question came from Linda Osmundson, Director of CASA (Community Actions Stops Abuse). She asked for help in increasing the availability of FHA Section 8 vouchers. The availability of these vouchers has all but dried up. CASA has used these vouchers to place battered women in temporary housing as a way stop in helping these dislocated victims find permanent housing. Nelson failed to see the particular significance of this question and referred back to his previous answer about affordable housing funding and the 60 vote roadblock. Seems to me the answer is to elect a bigger Democratic majority and get a Democrat in the White House in 2008.

Nelson closed the meeting by noting that no one had asked him about Iraq. He then proceeded to explain his position on Iraq. Mainly, he supports the Iraq Study Group conclusions that the US should have begun a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq and a change in the mission of the remaining troops. That changed mission would be to provide training for Iraqi forces; to provide border security and force protection and targeted missions against Al Qaeda in Iraq. Nelson also pointed out the ISG's call for increased diplomatic activity to create a regional solution for Iraq. This allowed him to point out his earlier visit to Syria and the criticism he had received. However, he is getting the last laugh as the administration now seems to be talking more to the Syrians, and they are even talking to the Iranian Ambassador in Baghdad.

Overall, this was a good performance for Nelson. He has been doing Town Hall meetings for 35 years and is very comfortable in this format. Despite my nitpicking above, he answered all questions put to him. He talked about what a privilege it was for him to serve. You got the feeling that he meant it. While I do not always agree with Bill Nelsons' votes on specific issues, he is a trustworthy man of his convictions. As Ronald Reagan said, someone who votes with you 80% of the time is your friend, not your enemy.

Nelson continued his vacation with another Town Hall meeting later in the day in Pasco County. Enjoy your "vacation", Senator Nelson.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Yearly Kos

Howard Dean speaks at Yearly Kos and asks the netroots to lobby to improve voting machines.

Dean: “This is not a one day or one election struggle. This is something we have to do every single day for the rest of our lives… And when we get knocked down, we’re going to stand up again for the core principles of America, because America was knocked down by the far-right wing of the Republican Party in the last eight years. And by God, we’re going to get up and recover and stand up for what we used to stand up for. We are going to regain the moral leadership that made America a great country. And we are going to live again in America and stand up and lead the world to the promised land.”

Dean gets the crowd going talking about forcing Republicans to vote on Iraq.

Update: Jill Filipovic is liveblogging a Q and A session with Democratic presidential candidates at YK.

Update: Jill reports that Mike Gravel's tax plan bombed with the crowd.

Sen. Gravel was just asked about his tax structure, which would eliminate the IRS and institute a 23 percent sales and service tax. Joan asks him how low-income people are going to survive waiting for their rebate check every month.

Gravel responds that “you need to know how politics works.” Everyone hisses. He says not to worry about the Fair Tax, because it will never pass Congress. He discusses the corruption and the structural flaws in Congress. “The answer is with you, the American people, to acquire law-making power. That is where the power lies.”

Gravel's national sales tax program is horrible.

Update: Amanda Marcotte reports that Hillary Clinton got slammed by Edwards and Obama.

Jill and I were sitting together at the Presidential forum, and she liveblogged the whole thing. Check it out. Hillary Clinton got the worst of it, I think, because Edwards and Obama tagged her for taking money from Washington lobbyists and she couldn’t squirm out of it. That said, I felt that her first attempt to answer accusations about taking lobbyist money was honest and reasonable—she feels the system puts you in this situation and that it’s hardly a singular, personal failing. Fair enough, but in the end, she had a hard time convincing the admittedly tough crowd at Yearly Kos that she was sincere in wishing that it could be different. Then she blew it completely by denying that the money lobbyists spend has the amount of influence that it does, giving Edwards and Obama a chance to pounce and point out what’s obvious—lobbyists would not spend billions of dollars if they weren’t buying influence.

It's amazing how Hillary always tries to say something to please everyone and ends up alienating all.

Update: It gets better. Ezra Klein has a great take on the crowd's reaction to Hillary's lobbying money defense. This is comical.

Hillary Clinton on Edwards' challenge to stop taking lobbyist money: "I certainly think thats a position Sen, Edwards has taken." Yes, indeed it is. She then says that "I've been in politics for 35-years, and I think it's silly for anyone to think that money impacts my positions." The crowd laughs at her then boos.

Hillary's a horrible candidate. Having a great campaign staff and famous last name doesn't hide it. There are so many women in the Democratic Party more worthy of the attention Hillary is receiving.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

RoadBlock Republicans Vote AGAINST Health Care for Children

Tampa Bay's Roadblock Republicans showed their true colors once again yesterday. How did they do it this time? They voted against Hr 3162 a bill
to extend and improve the children's health insurance program, to improve beneficiary protections under the Medicare, Medicaid, and the CHIP program
Here is the list of Tampa Bay's Roadblock Republicans who voted against health care for children:

  • Gus Bilirakis
  • Ginny Brown-Waite
  • Vern Buchanan
  • Adam Putnam
  • Bill Young

What is the matter with these people? Why would they vote against expanding health care for children? Here is the red herring that Ginny Browne-Waite threw out responding to a letter from Charlie Crist supporting this initiative:
"I am disappointed that your letter fails to mention that SCHIP funding should not come at the expense of Florida's seniors."
Where is Ginny Brown-Waite getting this idea? Here is what the far right Human Events Magazine reports:
cutting $157 billion from the Medicare Advantage ... This scenario could result in seniors losing their current health care provider or being subjected to increased costs and decreased services.
But what is Congress really doing? They are cutting subsidies to Medicare Advantage HMO's. These are the insurance industry darlings who pushed through the Republican controlled Congress the hare brained scheme that they should be paid more than traditional Medicare benefits for denying more services.

So these Roadblock Republicans are not really standing up for seniors. They are standing up for insurance companies instead of providing more health care for children.

Isn't it time to get rid of these people?