Saturday, April 29, 2006

How to Lose in November

It’s great to have the wind at our backs for a change. The majority of Americans are motivated and desperately want a change. I work with several GOP’rs, conservative guys, but they will not be supporting the GOP ticket this November. They say they are tired of the out of control spending, scandal, and accountability issues –so why reward this behavior? (They may not vote Democrat since it’s encoded in their DNA, so don’t be surprised if you see a lot more votes for Libertarians than usual.)

Congress and this administration have ignored the Dems, Independents, and moderate GOPrs, and then abandoned their supposed conservative “core” principles. So who is left? Die-hards who refuse to face reality, but that won’t be enough to stop the shift. The Dems are rising, and by the way, there is no more exciting place to be a Dem than right here in Seminole.

You know the feeling of a picking a stock right before the boom? Guess what, that’s where we are: We have garnered national media attention the past few weeks for attracting the big names, several newspapers across the country have touted our growing muscle, our new technology is now available for all democratic candidates, and mood is turning here, in the heart of red county. The Democratic commissioner for my city told me how excited she was with our new organization--and even better: the right-wing nutjobs are furious! (Blog comments and emails--blah, blah, CLINTON!) We have the power to actually change minds, which beats being a Dem in a safe blue area any day!

But guess what, folks, we can still lose.

Dissatisfaction alone won’t let us win on the national and state level. As hard as it is on those levels, it will be ten times harder here in Seminole. We can’t be na├»ve—Seminole wasn’t turned red overnight, nor will it turn back to blue in one election. There was a time when we didn’t believe in organization, we just thought we had to be right. And we NEVER believed that the grand old party of privilege would be able to convince the middle class and rural voters here that they are on their side, but they did just that. Over time, Seminole turned red with a consistent and concentrated effort by a dedicated minority; and at the same time, we were arrogant enough to be complacent. Now it is the Republicans who are being complacent and ignoring their voters (again, read their blog comments—we are told they don’t have to do anything and people will just keep following them, no matter how much they screw up).

The question is, will we now be the dedicated minority willing to work to turn the tables?

There are 80,000 Democrats here in Seminole Co. All we need is a small percentage to be active participants in order to win back Seminole Co; and it doesn’t take that much to be active.

This Saturday, I joined my fellow SemDems in canvassing Democratic households to talk about issues and ask for help. The response was overwhelming. No one was negative, and every single household we visited was glad to see us. Many gave emails and phone numbers, and almost every household said “Thank you” , “God bless you for doing this”, or “It’s great the Dems are finally getting their act together!” We listened to their passionate stories when talking about their loved ones still in Iraq, trouble gaining healthcare, or the high gas prices: and they were furious when talking about how much the GOP has screwed things up. We know we motivated some to volunteer, and others to vote. One was just pleased we asked her opinion.

Folks, we need help in canvassing. It’s kind of like going to the gym: the hardest part is convincing yourself to go, but you are ALWAYS glad you did. It’s how the Republicans won, and you know what, unlike the GOP, when we canvass, our people are GLAD to see us! (How would like to canvass as a republican—“OK, we ignored you and we screwed everything up, but hey, things can’t get much worse?”)

GOOD NEWS: The math is in our favor. There are 108,000 Repbulicans, and 80,000 democrats. But there are 52,000 independents, who are strongly leaning democrat. There are tons of unregistered voters in heavily Democratic areas. But none of this means anything if we don’t communicate with the independents and disenfranchised republicans, and register the Democrats.

BAD NEWS: The GOP has the fundraising advantage, and the power of incumbency.

Unfortunately, we also have to contend with dirty politics. When I canvassed in 2004, some Sanford residents were told to vote in different places or even on a different day!

If you have read this far, then you are someone who is politically involved. And if you are a Dem, you are angry. It’s time to do something about it. We have NEVER HAD A BETTER OPPORTUNITY! This is our time—and we NEED YOUR HELP.

Sign-up to help us out! You can also get involved by volunteering to be a precinct captain, contribute, work a campaign, even run for office! Whatever you have been doing, promise yourself to do AT LEAST one step above what you normally do.

Don’t let this opportunity pass. If you have ever thought about getting involved, do it now!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Demand a Democratic Voice on our Radio

At any time of the day on AM talk radio here in Central Florida, you can listen to the “objective” voices of Neil Bortz, Mike Gallagher, Bill O-Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Mike Savage, Bud Hedinger, or a litany of other extremist nutjobs.

Want to get to the bottom of Congresswoman McKinney’s incident on Capital Hill? — Neil Bortz brings you intelligent commentary on her hairdo while using names such as “ghetto slut”.
Want information on the allegations against Duke University’s lacrosse team by a young mother of two? - Rush will give you enlightened criticism by referring to her as a “Ho”.
Need some brilliant insight into the president’s state of the union address? - Mike Gallagher gave an hour-long discussion of how the Democratic senators were traitors for not standing and applauding. (Sadly, that was one of his better shows. It beat the one about how horrible it is that Spanish-speakers actually get an option when calling customer service lines).

The republicans threw out the long-standing FCC rule to be “fair and balanced” a long time ago, which is why I sometimes find morons screaming at me through the radio about how Latinos and other ethnic groups are a plague to this country, how terribly unfair the media is to Tom Delay and Enron, how Valerie Plame deserved what she got, that Bush is a "secret genius", and that everything would be going great in Iraq if everyone would just shut up and stop asking questions.

Two primary radio stations, WFLA-AM540 and WDBO AM 580, provide talk radio with just one point of view, so as not to confuse anyone with different ideas or those annoying “facts” that keep getting in the way of their beliefs. (By the way, as I write this, Tico Perez is giving a rant on WDBO 580. The slogan for that station should be "Where the callers always agree". I guess he decided to go to freindlier territory because he got tired of our own Carol Cox mopping the floor with him on WESH TV.)

Worried that there was not enough of the extremist right viewpoint in Central Florida, Salem Communications Corporation announced late last year that they would buy three radio stations here in Orlando: WTLN-AM 950, WHIM-AM 1520 and WORL-AM 660. (Remember the Bill Bennett controversy last year—that’s Salem’s star!)

Salem is unapologetically partisan, and they wield considerable influence within the GOP. Lucky recipients of their donations have included our own Ric Keller and Tom Feeney.

Sidenote: Feeney was a guest on Hedinger’s lousy show yesterday. He actually told Bud that spending would get out of control if republicans lose Congress this year. Really? Unlike now, I suppose. Not one caller reminded him that these record deficits, record pork-barrel spending ($250m bridge to nowhere), and lobbying scandals are all with the current large republican majorities. And that budget surplus we had until Bush got his hands on it? Now that was under Democratic leadership, wasn’t it, Tom?

I know we can always go to the internet and the blogosphere to hear viewpoints of those people who haven’t stuck their heads in the sand (such as this one), but aren’t there more people like me clamoring for sensible talk shows on our radios not run by screaming, bigoted, and uninformed jackasses?

I am not asking for a 24-hour propaganda broadcast like FoxNews. What I am saying is that Central Florida has a very large progressive population, and its time for us to demand other viewpoints on our radios in our own hometown. And, by the way, I know there is a HUGE market for this. Why can’t we have our own small radio station, or at least a single program on one station that hasn’t been absorbed into the “collective”. What every movement needs is a beginning. In other words, will someone pick up the ball here in Central Florida? Anyone?

Quick Note: You wanted more organization in our party? We got it--now its time to step up! Come to the SemDem meeting at the Eastmonte Civic Center, Altamonte Springs (830 Magnolia Dr). April 27 at 7pm. The National Democratic Party is organizing a massive 50 state canvass—our party’s biggest effort ever. Sign up to register voters, get volunteers, and spread our message at http://www.democrats.org/page/event/detail/4v7cr We need you—the smallest amount of time you can spare beats nothing at all.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Rumsfeld has Got to Go

To put it bluntly, Rumsfeld is the probably the worst secretary of defense ever. You know he’s bad when the people who should be his most ardent supporters, senior military leaders, come out publicly and to tell everyone how bad he is. Rumsfeld has been wrong on just about everything:

He swore that he knew where the weapons of mass destruction were; he reassured the troops the conflict would last “six days” or “six weeks. I doubt six months”, (Try at least 6 years); he ignored the advice of his own military leaders who knew we needed more troops to stabilize the nation, (General Eric Shinseki wanted the minimum CENTCOM had planned for, 350,000—Rumsfeld cut it to 140,000); he ignored concerns when crime and looting was getting out of hand, (that’s right, they are just expressing their freedom); he cherry-picked the units on the deployment list, skipping certain units that were at a higher degree of readiness; knew about the Abu Ghraib abuses for months and intentionally withheld them from Congress; he completely bungled getting the troops the equipment and armor they need (and still need!); and even when he wasn’t being wrong, he was still harmful. (Remember when he insulted our allies (“Old Europe”) when we should have been asking for help?)

The fact is, he has lost support of the military officers who work for him, and has lost support of the majority of Americans who have increasingly grown disillusioned by Rumsfeld’s extreme incompetence. We are at war, and this is no time for Bush’s infamous misplaced loyalty to trump over what is best for our nation. There is now no doubt that we were misled by this administration into this war, but the fact remains that we simply cannot afford to fail in Iraq. But if there is not a change in the Secretary of Defense, Iraq will continue to deteriorate as will our troop's morale.

None of this, of course, will matter to W. He will drag both countries down with him before he would ever admit that he made a mistake. And that’s the crux of this whole issue: The president can’t replace the SECDEF with someone more credible and more competent (the WP suggested Hagel, McCain, or Lieberman), because the president believes that changing the Secretary of Defense would be an admission of failure. The result: no matter how bad Rumsfeld performs, no matter how much he screws up (and I think we haven’t seen anything yet), Bush will stick with him.

Bush, remember, has never fired anyone. He didn’t fire Mike Brown after the Katrina fiasco, he didn’t fire George Tenet even though he oversaw the two biggest intelligence failures in US history (WMD in Iraq and 9/11). In fact, Bush gave Tenet the highest civilian honor a president can give, the Medal of Freedom.

As a former veteran, I can see the argument that some are using against the growing chorus of former military leaders that are calling for Rumsfeld to resign. Normally, yes, you shouldn’t criticize a sitting Secretary of Defense in a time of war. However, that only holds true if the commander- in- chief will hold those under him accountable and actually act like a leader. As they see it, they don’t have much of choice. These generals coming forward are acting out of loyalty to the troops and to our nation. I only wish our president would do the same.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Tale of Two Cities: Hope and Crawford

Another very bad week for the GOP. (Since Bush promised to fire anyone who leaked classified information, I wonder how he will fire himself? Maybe he can ask Tom Delay for pointers…)

However, this week being Palm Sunday and ending in Easter, I am not going on the offensive this week. (I’m certain there will be plenty to keep me busy next week, next month, and so on--the next quiet time will be Xmas week, but that will be after the election :). In fact, this is a unique week for me. One year ago exactly I was in Crawford, Texas, and 10 years ago I was in Hope, Arkansas. You can tell a lot about a person from their hometown, so I would like to take this opportunity to talk first hand about these interesting places. Happy Easter, everyone!

A place called Hope: Right off the interstate was a brown interstate sign that spoke of the birthplace of Bill Clinton. In 1996, Clinton is president, and my wife and I were both big fans, so we decided to pull into town. There were signs everywhere for the town’s claim to fame:

the annual watermelon festival.

In fact, portraits of watermelons were more frequent than tributes to Bill (a few antique shops had those classy cardboard cutouts, though). Bill had two childhood homes here—and a map at the visitor’s center let you see his homes, school, etc. (I don’t remember too much about his homes, except they were small). In fact, there wasn’t anything very distinctive I remembered about Hope. There were churches, schools, a railroad: pretty much everything a small town should have.

However, what I do remember is the friendliness of everyone we met. Everyone smiled, waved and wanted to talk to you. I also remember it being very racially diverse. Hope had a lot of charm, but the people really made the town. My wife, a collector of ceramic bells, found her Hope bell (it featured, what else, a Watermelon), and we continued our journey.



Western Whitehouse, Crawford:
I was in Waco on business, and I had seen the sites: Dr. Pepper museum, Ranger museum, and the area of the former Branch Davidian compound. Crawford was only 30 minutes away, so what the hey. The town is really out there, and it wasn’t even on the map we had, but people guided us along the way. Although not at all racially diverse, the people here are very friendly and helpful. (I could tell you it was an evil place filled with evil people, but I’d be lying). The downtown is truly small; it consists of a barber shop, a post office, a diner, gas station, a building that I think is supposed to be city hall, and two large shops dedicated to selling Bush paraphernalia. One of the things they sell is postcards or magnets of the Big Orange sign that appears on the road in front of the Western White House: NO STOPPING NO STANDING NO PARKING.

After visiting the downtown, I got directions to the Western White House. The dirt road we were on suddenly gave way to many HUGE and beautiful ranches. When we passed the Big Orange sign, we had made it. The buildings on the compound are simply too far from the road to see, but the Secret Service compound with their dozens of satellite dishes and black SUVs by the fork in the road lets you know where the entrance is. We almost got to see inside the Secret Service compound because my co-worker/driver tapped the brakes after we had passed the Big Orange sign: a black SUV pulled out from behind the trees and tailed us until we turned around and headed back. (Thankfully, the rental car was registered to a republican).

And even though I felt much more comfortable in Hope, I can tell you there were many similarities. Both were friendly, southern towns, both very patriotic, and both equally devoted to their favorite sons.

The only real difference is that I couldn’t bring myself to buy the Crawford ceramic bell for my wife. (I couldn’t resist the refrigerator magnet of the Big Orange sign, though).

Sunday, April 02, 2006

FL Legislature, Congress, and Governorship—Yes, we CAN win them all!

First this: Congratulations to Carol Cox and all those involved in pulling off the successful fundraiser Saturday. Media coverage was very positive and touted the growing muscle of the Seminole Democrats. Speeches were given by the Dem candidates for governor: Jim Davis and Rod Smith; also Senator Bill Nelson. The headliner was Iowa governor and likely 2008 presidential contender, Tom Vilsack. He was the first Democratic governor elected in over 30 years—proof that things can change.

It’s ironic. Given the current political makeup of our state and national government, it would appear to someone who knew nothing about politics that the republicans would have the advantage this November. By all reason, they should—however, not even supporters of the GOP could have predicted the colossal incompentence and corruption that has led to the current massive tide change of public opinion. I can honestly say, as can the other side, that it is better right now to be a Democrat.

Governor: A year ago, I would not have believed that any Democrat could overcome the affable and eternally tanned Charlie Crist. But according to a poll in the Wall Street Journal (featured on flapolitics.com), Crist is only leading Davis now by four percentage points, (42%-38%) which is within the margin of error. The independent Quinnipiac Univeristy poll on 2/22/2006 also shows the same margin of error (40%-36%). Rod Smith had a 10% deficit on Crist on the same poll. As Crist and Gallagher continually try to destroy each other, and as Crist has to defend himself for failing to protect
state employee privacy, as well as the high cost involved for his ridiculously named “Anti-Murder” bill, (which was even rejected by fellow republicans last year), expect that number to keeping turning in our favor. As political commentator Scott Maxwell said in today’s Orlando Sentinel, “If issues actually become central in this race…Charlie might get nervous”.

Senate: Katherine Harris must have something to gain by being in the Senate if she is willing to pour 10 million of her own money into her failing campaign. Thing is, its not going to make a difference. In yet another in a long string of embarrassments, the associated press reported today that Katherine lost her campaign manager, a top advisor, communications director, and the rest of her core staff this weekend. This has followed a sad trail of poor fundraising, lack of party support, and a revelation from federal prosecutors that a defense contractor involved in a bribery scandal had illegally contributed $30,000 to Harris. But while Harris tries to salvage what is left of her ailing campaign by
exploiting Christianity (So now you are leading a Christian crusade, Katherine?), while at the same time negatively smearing her opponent, Senator Nelson is acting in true Christian fashion. At our Seminole County fundraiser yesterday, he gave a positive speech and didn’t even mention Harris’ troubled campaign.

Fl. Legislature: Despite recent history and gerrymandered districts, the Florida GOP is terrified of losing a their majority. This was unthinkable just a few months ago, but the numbers have changed . We Dems are in a great position to finally take back Florida—this article explains it better than I could.

It won’t be easy, and it will take more than just watching the GOP implode, but victory has never been so close. Many of the republicans who put in a lot of time and effort back in 2004 are not going to be there just to keep things the way they are, however, we Dems need to put in the same passion and commitment we had back then to make this work. We need to volunteer to register and collect voters, donate, if possible, work a campaign, or even run for office.

If it gets too hard, just keep in mind, it could be a lot worse for you this campaign season.

You could be a republican…

Saturday, April 01, 2006

VILSACK RECEPTION TODAY

It is not enough to simply count on the republicans to self-destruct. To win back the Florida legislature, the Governor's mansion, and the House and Senate, we need to work harder than ever before. We haven't been this close to victory in years. Today, April 1, at 5:30 pm, is a reception with 2008 presidential contender Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa. He is the popular Democratic leader of a conservative state, and he will no doubt share insight into finding and winning the votes in red territory (Sound like any particular county we know?).


This reception was lauded in the Orlando Sentinel recently, saying it showed the up and coming muscle of the Seminole Democrats. Come be a part of it. (At least do it for me, as I am trapped in Atlanta and will be unable to attend). It is only $50 or $100 for VIP, whereas fundraisers like this are usually $1000 a plate, this is a real bargain. The money will be used to help us elect needed Democratic candidates--its a good cause and an important event. Please go to www.seminoledemocrats.com or call 407.330.9988.

Let's turn this county blue again!