Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Republicans taking touch-screen voting machines home?

Remember Seminole’s infamous role in the 2000 election fiasco? County election chief Sandy Goard allowed GOP operatives to set up shop and fill in missing information on Republican absentee ballot applications, a clear violation of the law. (Goard made the opposite decision for a very similar case involving a Democratic candidate for commissioner, Dean Ray.)

That was years ago, when dirty tricks meant leaving the comfort of your home. BUT NO MORE! The big buzz at the candidate rally held today in Casselberry was the recent discovery that Republican Mike Ertel, our current elections chief, allows some poll workers to take home the laptop-like electronic voting machines recently purchased for Seminole County.

Yes, there is supposedly a “tamper-proof” seal on them when they take them home. Which doesn’t make me feel any safer—especially when you ask the question of what possible justification they have, and what reason they have, to take these machines from a secured government office to someone’s home for a “sleepover”?

Note to our right-wing elections chief: taking these machines home is NOT a good idea. At best it breeds suspicion, and of course, they can be stolen: just ask the VA.

At worst, well, let’s just say the GOP does not have the best reputation for protecting the integrity of the vote.

Saying there is a seal makes it seem even more suspicious: if they supposedly can’t get into the machines---what is the point of bringing them home??

Does Seminole County, much less Florida, really need another election scandal?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stem Cell Veto: Strike 3 on Moral Hypocrisy

What is more valuable than human life and preventing human suffering? Bush gave the answer: a frozen, leftover clump of cells-- that are going to be thrown away anyway. How any decent, moral being can choose that over a human life is not only hypocritical, it is just ignorant.

This isn’t the first time. This is number three on the annual conservative Moral Hypocrisy chart:

1: Opposition to Cancer Vaccination: With cervical cancer rates rising, America was astounded to learn last October that conservatives actually opposed a vaccination for cervical cancer. The so-called Family Research Council opposed the vaccine for HPV (human papilloma virus) because, somehow, it would give women “a license to engage in premarital sex”. Putting aside the insane argument that women deserve to die because they might engage in sexual intercourse, there was also the scientific fact that HPV could be transmitted in other ways. (No matter when there’s a lesson to be learned.)

The FDA is filled with political appointees that serve these right-wing extremists, but luckily, outrage caused them to cave on this issue and finally approved this life-saving vaccine last month. Unfortunately, the debate now moves to how accessible this vaccination will be. This will be determined by the Center for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. (And with extremists like Dr. Finger) filling that committee, who worries that saving a life might interfere with other’s religious zealotry, you can bet what the answer will be.)

2: South Dakota Abortion Ban (even in cases involving rape/health of the mother): If South Dakota is going to force a young woman, brutally raped and impregnated by her attacker, to carry her pregnancy to term, then you would at the very least expect the state to give free access to health care and day-care for baby. It is, after-all, all about the baby, right? Nope. Think again. Because these zealots, once again, only care about the clump of cells. (see a pattern emerging?) They don’t give a damn what happens when there is an actual baby outside the womb—one of which there is NO question by anyone is a life. Once that happens, the woman can drop the kid in the well for all they care. The sorry state of South Dakota's orphanages and the number of children in poverty prove this point. Did you know that the three worst counties for child poverty in the U.S. are ALL in South Dakota, according to the Children's Defense Fund? Where are the zealots now?

3. Plan B: The FDA DID cave to the right-wing nuts on this one, and have no science whatsoever to back this up. Plan B is made up of the same material as the contraceptive known as the pill in higher concentrations. (Now the Pill was approved by the FDA, right?)

Plan B is not an abortion pill. It doesn’t “abort” a fetus, it simply prevents conception. In fact, this pill can PREVENT abortion. But once again, ignorance reins supreme.

All three of these have one thing in common besides the belief that clumps of cells should come before people. All are the work of the extremists that run the GOP.

And keep in mind: Even more scary than what they have gotten away with so far, is what they will plan to do if they should stay in power after November.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Director of Irony

I saw this on Americablog. It was orated by Rep. Rahm Emanuel from Illinois:

"Mr. Speaker, yesterday the President said we continue to be wise about how we spend the people's money.

"Then why are we paying over $100,000 for a 'White House Director of Lessons Learned'?

"Maybe I can save the taxpayers $100,000 by running through a few of the lessons this White House should have learned by now.

"Lesson 1: When the Army Chief of Staff and the Secretary of State say you are going to war without enough troops, you're going to war without enough troops.

"Lesson 2: When 8.8 billion dollars of reconstruction funding disappears from Iraq, and 2 billion dollars disappears from Katrina relief, it's time to demand a little accountability.

"Lesson 3: When you've 'turned the corner' in Iraq more times than Danica Patrick at the Indy 500, it means you are going in circles.

"Lesson 4: When the national weather service tells you a category 5 hurricane is heading for New Orleans, a category 5 hurricane is heading to New Orleans.

"I would also ask the President why we're paying for two 'Ethics Advisors' and a 'Director of Fact Checking.'

"They must be the only people in Washington who get more vacation time than the President.

"Maybe the White House could consolidate these positions into a Director of Irony."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Seminole Sprawl

The odd thing that has always bothered me about Central Florida is why it is made so easy to develop on green areas as opposed to the numerous dilapidated areas that sit abandoned for years.

Take the Pic-n-Save plaza in Longwood that has been vacant for 10 years as an example. Or the large vacant lots and abandoned buildings at the intersection of 436 and 17-92. (17-92 is a poster child for uncontrolled development). It is always the case that someone would rather bulldoze trees to make a new shopping center instead of renovating an old one. And it is always the case that once green space is taken away, it is never brought back. (Nobody will pay to tear down a dilapidated building and replant what was gone).

A recent poll by Envision Seminole said that 75 percent of Seminole County residents favor preservation of rural open space. Yes, we are growing, but we need to preserve the quality of life that has made this area a desirable place to begin with.

For our candidates, it should be noted that many citizens are starting to vote on the single issue of urban sprawl. The letters received by the Seminole Chronicle, the Voice, and the Sentinel have started to show the anger that is normally reserved for various hot-button social issues in national politics. If I was a candidate and had to pick one platform to run on in a local race, responsible growth would be it.

For our citizens, let your elected leaders know where you stand on this issue. Get involved. Participate in public hearings and work with planning groups, such as the Central Florida organization or Envision Seminole.

The type of place you want to live in depends on you.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fourth of July Message for my fellow Democrats

Patriotism is the love of one’s country, not a weapon to be used to beat dissenters into submission. Democrats wrote the book on patriotism. The greatest accomplishments of the past century are Democratic achievements: the recovery out of the Great Depression, the victory of WWII, great programs such as Social Security and Medicare, the fight for civil-rights, the Space Program (PS: Godspeed Discovery), the ability to balance the budget and reduce massive deficits, and always, ensuring that the backbone of this nation, the working class families of America, have a voice.

A former Dem chariman said: “The common thread of Democratic history, from Thomas Jefferson to Bill Clinton, has been an abiding faith in the judgment of hardworking American families, and a commitment to helping the excluded, the disenfranchised and the poor strengthen our nation by earning themselves a piece of the American Dream. We remember that this great land was sculpted by immigrants and slaves, their children and grandchildren."

Ironic, then, that our enemies of fear and smear have tried so hard to attack our patriotism and claim their narrow views alone define patriotism and faith. Worse yet, is the wrongful success that they have had in this attack, especially in red counties like Seminole.

The following is the first blog I ever wrote, entitled Reclaim our Victory by Reclaiming our Values. I discuss specifically the values of faith and patriotism and STRONG points of argument you can use against the GOP’s disingenious claims, and more importantly, how to fight back.

Happy Fourth of July, Everyone!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Office of Censorship?
GOP's model for us: North Korea

Although it is not new that many members of the GOP hate a free press, what is new is the level that those members will stoop to in order to crush criticism and possible different points of view. Several GOP Congressmen last week have suggested revoking the Capitol Hill credentials of journalists that do not share their point of view, others have accused members of the media of "treason" for reporting illegal activities of this administration, (one conservative personality even called for the editor to go to the gas chamber), and worst of all, a Fox News pundit is calling for establishment of an "Office of Censorship" to screen the news for us.

Thomas Jefferson once remarked that if given the choice between a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, he would not hesitate to choose the latter. The 1st amendment is first for a reason. The first words are "Congress shall make no law.." (Compared to the first words of the 2nd amendment: "A well-regulated militia..") However, the most protected amendment in the nation is the 2nd amendment. The GOP has tried countless times to write laws to curb expression of free speech that disagrees with their ideology. George Bush, in response to a critical website in May 1999, famously said, "Their ought to be limits to free speech".

It must be difficult to defend the Constitution if you don't believe in it.

The latest story of the government being able to track bank records of anyone without warrants seems to be the catalyst for the GOP's push to crack down on the free and independent press. Who can blame them? They control all three branches of government, virtually elimating America's democratic protection of checks and balances--but the so-called fourth branch isn't playing ball. Yes, the republicans own a large swath of the media, from FauxNews to AM Radio to many TV stations, and yet, some people who choose to get unfiltered information can still find it out there. (DAMN traitors!)

The GOP would like nothing more than to turn America into North Korea--where their leader is hailed as a divine being sent from the Heavens, where freedoms are curtailed, privacy eliminated, and insubordinates are swiftly tortured, jailed, or executed. And of course, no Free Press. Only the propoganda approved by the Government.

Never before has a newspaper in THIS country been charged with treason. And for what? For reporting on yet another illegal activity by this administration? For letting the terrorists know that we are interested in tracking their money? (like they didn't already know this)? And if this president and the rubber-stamp Congress was serious about tracking terrorist's money--instead of looking into Joe Redneck's bank account, why don't they try to obtain the records from banks and individuals from the NUMBER ONE sponsor of Terrorism: SAUDI ARABIA. (Oh, because the royal family owns the president lock, stock, and barrel. I forgot).

Joe Scarborough actually made sense this week. He said that if the point of conservatism is a limited government, then why are true conservatives not up in arms about constantly expanding the government? If Bill Clinton was in office, and he advocated looking into anyone's emails, phone records, bank records, and the ability to wiretap anyone--all of this without any oversight whatsoever: DO YOU THINK THE GOP WOULD HAVE BEEN OK WITH THIS?

Unfortunately, short-sighted thinking (or not thinking) is the specialty of the GOP and their "sheeple". And America is paying the price.

Maybe the GOP's goal is to keep us safe from terror by giving up the freedoms that make the terrorists hate us so much.

And maybe North Korea truly is paradise to them. If that is the case, then allow me to make the statement they have tried to use against us: LOVE this county and our freedoms, or get out!