Thursday, August 31, 2006

Why Conservative Winter Springs loves Jeremiah

One might be surprised to see the multitude of Democrat Jeremiah Jaspon's "running man" signs and stickers plastered all over my ultra-conservative hometown of Winter Springs. What is even more noteworthy is the complete lack of Lee Constantine signs in this city. (And don't count on seeing any).

Why is that?

There are a couple of reasons, but one big one in particular. Wanna play?

Answer: The reason Winter Springs citizens are supporting a Democrat in the State Senate race-- for $1000

What is stance on education, Alex? So Wrong. We have pretty good schools in this city. Although Lee Constantine can't take any credit. He joined his GOP calleagues in undermining the voter-approved class size amendment and paying teachers well below the national average.

What is cheaper medicine? There is a large senior population in Winter Springs. Unlike his opponent, Jeremiah favors joining the same program that several other states have joined that allow residents to purchase safe prescription refills from licensed and inspected pharmacies in Canada at 25 to 80% off of the US Retail price. Why should we have to pay so much more for the exact same medicine, just because we are American?

But no that's not it either.

What is Constantine's effort to limit public access to information? True, but frankly, most people here don't know and frankly, don't care.

Give up? Lake Mary knows. So does St. Cloud. Like those two cities, Winter Springs wanted to provide municpal internet access to ALL of its residents as a public service. Beside doing something to benefit the people, it would be an incentive for new residents and businesses to relocate, and help narrow the digital divide.

Of course, if you didn't want the free service, you could choose to pay more for a better service from the telecommunication companies, but it would be a choice. It's called "capitalism". Almost everyone loved the idea.

Except Lee Constantine.

At the behest of the telecommunications companies, Mr Constantine sponsored a bill in the State legislature that would have made it illegal for a city to offer communications services to its residents. Their profits took priority over a service that was supported by everyone, Dems and GOPs. (In fact, two of the biggest proponents for this connectivity for their respective cities of W.S. and Lake Mary were republicans Michael Blake and Michael McLean--now locked in a battle royale over a Sem Co commission seat.)

Thankfully, not even the special interest dominated, GOP-controlled Florida legislature decided they could justify Constantine's blatant assault on the citizens they are supposed to represent. After a public hearing, the citizens of Winter Springs were able to enjoy our city's wi-fi.

That is why the people here know that Jaspon's phrase, "Running for the People", isn't just another cheesy campaign slogan--it's a philosophy that is the complete opposite of Lee Constantine's.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Spinning Disaster: Katrina, ONE year later

The White House has gotten very good at spin, as one would expect since they screw up so much. But this week is their biggest challenge with the one year anniversary of Katrina. Karl Rove has been planning this spin for awhile. The LA Times reported a major public relations effort to try to rewrite history. (If his followers can swallow the crap he is feeding them on Iraq, I suppose he thinks he has a shot with this.)

I can see it now. Kids in goofy “KATRINA KIDS” T-shirts singing propoganda like: "Congress, Bush and FEMA…Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!"

Too corny? Yeah, but sadly, I didn’t make that up. That really happened.)
But corny songs and smear campaigns against local officials won’t save them. We know the truth of what Bush was told and when, and we know that while he was blowing off reports, eating cake and playing guitar, the rest of us were watching in horror as images were being broadcast of tens of thousands trapped in the Superdome, along with dead bodies floating in the streets.

Disgraceful.

The only thing more disgraceful? Although polls showed that 90% of the population wanted an independent, bi-partisan panel, modeled after the 9/11 Commission, to investigate government failures at all levels-—EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN IN THE SENATE voted it down. They choose a partisan panel that did gave the GOP the sole power to handle the direction of the investigation AND to suponena. The point was to shift blame, as much as they could, from the federal government.

To the GOPers who read my blog, I pose this challenge. I watched all the political shows that featured one D and one R, hoping at least one republican would attempt to justify that action against the American people. Not a one ever did. If you can find one, or you can justify it, post a comment.

Finally, Think Progress had an excellent Katrina timeline that recaps the events from the start of the hurricane to present. (Click Here or click KATRINA on their homepage.)

The best way to combat the spin is with the truth.



Aug 30: Bush "fiddled" as New Orleans drowned

Friday, August 25, 2006

Message to National Dems: Win Rovian Style

I gear this post for the Dems running for national office, which is where the Iraq war and war on terror take center stage. (The state issues for Florida can pretty much be summed up in two words: education and insurance. But that's another post.)

The Rovian strategy is always to tackle the enemy's strength, while at the same time taking your perceived weakness and make it a strength. His playbook for the Iraq mess is to paint the GOP as united, suggest that Dems who call for an exit strategy want to "cut and run", and finally, falsely tie it to the war on terror. (Turning a weakness into a strength.)

It's time the Dems took a page from the Rovian playbook. We already have the American people on our side with almost every issue (education, economy, honest government, healthcare, retirement, etc.) So we need to attack their perceived strength. The Democratic party and our national candidates need to come out swinging and FOCUS on the war on terror.

When you present the facts, we mop up the floor with the opposition.

FACT: For the Domestic Front of the War on Terror, it is the Democrats who have a tangible plan to protect our infrastructure (nuclear power plants, water, railways, borders, ports). Hell, Bush tried to give away control of vital infrastructure to foreign interests. Now, contrast this to the GOP plan, do nothing. The only response they had was to wiretap everybody with no oversight whatsoever--and since that violated the Constitution and was struck down as illegal, they are back to doing nothing.

(I forgot that Ken Mehlman stated Missle Defense was the other plan besides illegal wiretapping. Terrorists use boxcutters and suicide bombs to create terror, they don't primarily attack us with missiles from a nuclear sub. This is a classic example of trying to justify things they always wanted by using fear as a club. Remember Star Wars in the 1980s and how expesive and stupid that was--now let's rap up in in the war on terror and say we need it. That keeps us as safe as gutting the Constitution and giving more tax breaks for oil companies--all in the name of the war on terror.)

FACT: The Foreign Front is equally disatrous for the GOP. The influence and stature of our enemies: Hezbollah, Iran and Syria, has grown. Meanwhile, as we have poured billions of dollars and thousands of lives into Iraq, we have only become more hated. What is worse is that the resources we are using in Iraq is actually diverting from the war on terror. This was a fact not lost on the bipartisan 9/11 commission. Al Qaeda is our primary enemy, and they are in Pakistan, not Iraq. And while we are sacrificing our troops to moderate a civil war in Iraq, the real enemy is taking advantage and plotting against us.

Oh, and since Bush tried to divert millions in anti-terror technology from DHS, maybe the terrorists will try HERE instead of Britain next time.

Guys, LISTEN UP: Their plan is to NEGLECT our infrastructure while pouring billions into a Star Wars boondoggle, and their plan for Iraq is to keep the troops in Iraq INDEFINETLY (the flip side of cut and run).

And these are their strengths!!! Let's hit 'em where it hurts.

Rove would be proud.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Response to Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker wrote a piece in the Sentinel that claims people only think Bush is stupid because he speaks “Texas” English.

No, Kathy. The problem isn’t that he’s inarticulate. The problem is that he is easily manipulated by smarter people around him who know that he makes decisions based on beliefs, not logic. And once he makes a decision, no matter how much the circumstances change, or no matter how much data he is confronted with that the decision was wrong—he is unable to change course.

That is actually the textbook definition of stupidity: The idea that you can do the same thing the same way over and over again, and somehow get a different result.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Election Hijacking, Florida Style

Chairman Dean sent out an email that says what we already know, there is a movement from the GOP to disenfranchise voters and suppress Democratic turnout. He pointed to a Salon.com article, which identified six states with the most serious potential for vote suppression and the greatest potential for affecting the outcome of important races. No surprise, Florida makes the list. Salon picked Florida because of this year's new voter suppresion that I have previously blogged about:

From Salon.com:

Six years later, Florida is still Florida, only more so. Florida still has a Republican governor, Legislature, and secretary of state, and still doesn't have voter-verified paper trails for its vulnerable voting machines. Hundreds of thousands of voters remain at serious risk of being robbed of the vote.

This year, however, it also has a package of new voting rules, like restrictions on voter registration campaigns. The fines for violations are now so stiff that they forced the League of Women Voters to suspend its voter drives in the state for the first time in nearly 70 years. Each misplaced blank registration form means a potential penalty of $5,000. Just 16 misplaced blank forms, even if destroyed by a hurricane, could cost the Florida League $80,000 -- its entire annual state budget.

Another codicil in the new state voting law essentially endorses the thuggery of 2000. It permits roving bands of political partisans -- the same sort of goons who banged on the glass doors at the Miami election board six years ago to halt the recount -- to descend on inner-city precincts to challenge any voter's right to cast a vote on Election Day. The challenged voter will then be forced to use what reformers call a "placebo ballot" -- a provisional ballot that makes the voter feel like he voted, except the vote will count only if he comes back later to offer written proof that he was entitled to vote. "The use of challenges is likely to disenfranchise a lot of people," observes Lida Rodriquez-Taseff, the chair of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition.


Don't be discouraged. There are some tools I want to call your attention to:

The National Dems have organized a network of trained volunteers and attorneys: http://www.democrats.org/page/contribute/electionhijacking


MoveOn.org has organized a mircrotargeting effort. Republicans have perfected this technique to find and communicate with all their supporters. It uses sophisticated statistics to find supporters wherever they live. Seminole Dems do this as well.

Vote Early! Seminole locations:

  • Oviedo Library
  • Lake Mary Library
  • West (Wekiva) Library
  • Central (Cass.) Library
  • Elections Office at Airport Road


Republicans use early voting and absentee ballots to "bank" votes before Election Day. By getting the majority of their voters to voter early, they can concentrate their resources on a much smaller percentage on election day. Besides, if you vote early, you can help us on election day.

Demand a paper trail. Write a letter to the editor, and offer to join the organized protests at the voting locations demanding Seminole County have a paper trail for its new electronic voting machines.

We have the energy, the momentum, and most importantly, we are right on the issues. But all is lost if we give ground on more advanced election techniques and simultaneously allow voter suppression tactics to work.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Why I haven't hit Harris

Why haven’t I attacked Katharine Harris so far? That would sort of be like walking up to a guy who has been beaten half to death outside of a bar—and kicking him in the stomach. (A more comprehensive analogy would be that the guy had beaten himself half to death—but I digress.)

I actually feel bad for her. Scott Maxwell reported Sunday that top Republicans are complaining that she is “stubborn, eccentric, and struggles with the truth”. (Orlando Sentinel, 8/20/06)

As opposed to, say, Delay? Feeney? Cheney? Bush? (You can add corrupt to that list as well.) How bad do you have to be to be rejected by THIS leadership?

The article by Maxwell, by the way, focused on a big campaign event for Harris at an airport hanger to hold the crowd. 18 people showed up (which grew to 40). The reason there were so few supporters, according to Harris, was because of a fallen tree, which damaged the hanger and which caused the venue to be moved to another hanger.

At least, that is the reason according to Harris.

The problem, of course, is that that was untrue. The airport said that no hanger was damaged by a tree, and the venue was never moved.

I am not necessarily trying to slam Harris, but it is the latest example that goes to show a pattern that people can recognize as untrustworthy. I can get into other examples of corruption, tainted money, and lies, but you can pick up any paper for that. Which begs this question:

If my GOP friends can agree that Harris has a problem with credibility, then maybe you can understand our problem with Harris six years ago when she was the vote count woman in our state’s darkest hour. Are you telling me that she suddenly transformed from an honest public servant into a corrupt liar over a few years?

Or is it that you just didn’t care?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Orlando Sentinel: 211 not good

Four blogs ago I wrote about Seminole election chief Mike Ertel outsourcing the voter information hotline to United Way. Instead of hiring citizens to man the phones (as has always been the case), Mike gave $20,000 to the United Way to let them handle it. With our primary right around the corner, I complained that no one called when I picked up. The Sentinel decided to try as well. This is what they said in today's paper:


" A quick test last week produced the following: The hold time was seven minutes, and the operator could not answer a relatively simple question about early voting. In the end, the operator recommended calling 407-708-7000--the elections supervisor's office." (Orlando Sentinel, 8/20/06)
(Full Story)


So, $20,000 just to be told to call the elections supervisor's office for voter information.

Thanks, Mike.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Florida Legislature Suppresses Vote--AGAIN

The GOPs in our legislature are terrified of the national mood against republican corruption and incompetence. So they took action.

No, they didn’t all of the sudden decide to become responsible legislators concerned about the welfare of the citizenry—they decided instead to eliminate their largest threat:

Non-partisan voting groups.

Unfortunately, it was effective. The nonpartisan groups, such as the League of Women Voters who have been registering voters here for almost 70 years, have been nullified with the new legislation. (Or as Jeb likes to say, “devious plan”.)

The League of Women Voters, along with many other groups, are simply not registering new voters this year because this outrageous law imposes severe fines and tight deadlines:

For each and every voter registration form submitted more than ten days after the form was collected from a prospective voter, the Florida government will impose a fine of $250

Each registration form submitted after the passing of a registration deadline, the fine is $500.

If a registration form is not submitted, for any reason, the fine per form jumps to $5,000!


And it gets better—the law includes a “strict liability” legal standard, meaning that no extenuating circumstance -- not even destruction of an office by fire or a hurricane -- will excuse the failure to submit a registration form!

Of course, republicans want to register their own people without the fear of these draconian fines—so PARTISAN groups and partisans working for political parties are exempt. (It’s those evil NONpartisans that we have to watch out for.)

And since the GOP knows that their budgets are small, they calculated that these groups wouldn’t risk a mistake or accident that could wipe them out. And they also know that there will be less volunteers, since the canvassers can be held personally liable.

It follows a larger cohesive strategy by the GOP: Keep the vote LIGHT! The more involvement, the less likely the GOP is to win.

You can track this same type of story in just about every state: whether its imposing voter IDs in GA, fighting for legal support of “Challengers” who harass people standing in lines in PA, requiring registration forms to be cardboard in OH, or trying to purge voters from the voter rolls here in FL; it is always the same story.

Suppress the vote and win at any cost—even if it destroys the democracy you claim to serve.

My recommendation: Reach out to each of these groups that have shut down because of this law, and offer them a chance to sign up voters with us. It's the GOP who is suppressing them, so let's turn this GOP problem into an opportunity to help us and, in turn, help Florida. A Dem majority will shut down this law and others like it that assault our democracy. Things can and will get better if we all agree to help each other.

Stop the Paperless Touch Screens in Seminole

Visit www.marianwilliams206. Join the fight--email Marian Williams and offer to help.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Good film will go soon...

Winter Park Regal Cinema in Winter Park Village is the only theater in Central Florida showing the film “Who Killed the Electric Car?” This documentary has gotten rave reviews, and rightfully so. It is leaving very soon, so catch it before it goes…

again...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Getting Our Voices Heard: the TWO-one-one

Over a 6-year period of living in Central Fla, I would estimate that I have gotten about 5 letters published in the Sentinel. Sadly, I think that is more of a voice than several of our candidates have received – and I’m not running for anything. Trying to find out information about non-incumbents running for office in traditional media is like trying to find Mike Brown in New Orleans.

Most people don’t even know who their candidates are until they read their names on the ballot.

If the non-incumbent is lucky enough to be mentioned, it is often as a passing reference after a lengthy article on the incumbent. The Seminole Chronicle gushed all over Seminole election chief Mike Ertel’s new scheme to piggy-back off of Heart of Florida United Way’s 211 number to offer voter information, as opposed to what we have been doing for years--hiring citizens temporarily to handle the calls. The story carried biased commentary from Ertel and Bush’s Secretary of State saying how fantastic all of this is and how Seminole is improving its election reputation. One line in the last paragraph mentions that Mr. Ertel is up against Marian Williams this year.

Wouldn’t it have been great if they would have asked his opponent's viewpoint for a balanced article? Then you might have heard her side, which is that we shouldn’t outsource temporary jobs that would normally be given to citizens in our own community. And maybe the citizens of Seminole don’t agree that this outsourcing scheme to the United Way is somehow providing “better security”, as Ertel claims.

But I guess that would be asking too much.

PS: Get comfortable if you call. I already know my polling location, but figured I would ask if someone knew why the polling station for Sanford precinct 123 was moved from Hamilton Elementary. I called on 8/15 a little before 7pm. I hung up after several minutes of "We appreciate your patience. Please continue to hold, and a specialist will be with you as soon as possible."

Friday, August 11, 2006

How the GOP Lost the War on Terror

Kudos to Great Britain. Using human intelligence, they were able to infiltrate a potential terrorist threat (a REAL one, not one of the phonies touted by the administration when their polls go down) and in the process, saved lives and struck a blow to the terrorists.

What is the GOP leadership doing to keep us safe? Well, they immediately went into high gear and took action---on a FUNDRAISING LETTER. An email headlined by Rudy Guliani was sent out asking for money to help Bush fight the war on terror in the upcoming election. When power is at stake, you can always expect quick action from the GOP.

And our illustrious leader? At the same time the terrorists were getting ready, the Bush administration was fighting to divert away 6 million from explosive detections technology!! Apparently, research and development is such a low priority at Chertoff's Homeland Security that lawmakers actually rescinded money this summer because they failed to spend the $200 million they were alloted for research and development for anti-terror/bomb detection technologies.

I guess Chertoff needed that money to keep us safe from terrorists by continuing to ensure that the grant money is given to the number one terrorist target: the prairieland Red States. You know, for when they start planning their devious attacks on open fields?

What is really sad? The terrorist issue is viewed by the GOP as one of their strengths. Now you know that they are really in trouble.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Countering GOP Spin on Lieberman Defeat

In an article by Time magazine, it reported that the GOP is loving the victory of Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman. The GOP strategy is to try to paint the Dems as beholden to the "left extremists" in the party.

Really? Last I checked, it is the GOP, not the Dems, who are owned Lock,stock and barrel by their extremists. In fact, the only consistency to the current administration is the pushing of the right-wing extremist agenda at the expense of all others. (Come to think of it, the only time their cowboy ever backed down was when they declared their contempt of his friend, Harriet Myers). Hatemongers like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell must be catered too by any national republican candidate seeking office--can the same be said about our candidates and those who the GOP considers "left-wing" extremists?

Furthermore, I can't remember a time when so many extremists actually HELD higher office. The House is full of people like Tom Delay, who are only there to ensure two things: a narrow-minded agenda and to hold on to power at any cost.

So when the GOP starts their machine, just remind them of who their masters are.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

GOP Celebrates Higher Gas Prices

Bush's Energy Secretary actually touted the one-year anniversary of the GOP's tax giveaway to the oil companies today. The cornerstone of the administration's energy policy happened just one year ago--let's review:

-The bill gave away $10 billion in tax breaks and $7 billion in royalty relief to the oil companies, who were already racking in record profits. Bush and Co. said the incentives would encourage oil companies to "explore" for more oil and it would help the common man.
-One year later:
--the oil companies report the largest profits of any company in humankind (Exxon-Mobil alone was $10 billion dollars in profit)
--taxpayers stuck with trying to make up the $17 billion dollar budget shortfall
--gas prices did move--UP! Gas prices rose 30% since one year ago today (CNN)

The kicker is that the Energy Secretary was bragging about this as if the bill was a great idea.

I just want to know: what drugs are they taking in this administration that makes everything that is bad seem wonderful? Where can the rest of us get some?

I'll only need it until 2008...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Another attempt at Imperialism

Allright, we know that Rove and the president views the public he is supposed to serve and the other branches of government as an annoyance more than anything. Who are we to question anything he does? Who cares if its legal or not? Who cares if goes against our Constitution?

This is the first president who puts caveats by bills passed saying he may or may not follow them. (Bush was threatened with a lawsuit over that one--by a GOP Senator no less!)

But in Bush's world, laws and treaties are made to be broken. And, of course, the rubber-stamp GOP lackeys in the House have been all to happy to submit.

Now Bush wants to take control over what has always been a Governor's function: the calling up of the National Guard for emergencies. Under a bill passed by the lapdogs controlling the House, the president will be able to call up a state's Guard without the consent of the governor.

So much for the GOP principle of state's rights.

Federalization does not mean better---and the Bush administration hardly has any successes to point to to show how well it has performed. All the governors, even Bush supporters, don't like being told they have to give up power to an incompetent administration, and they are counting on the Senate to put the brakes on it.

Lets hope the GOP Senate will develop a backbone and say no to this latest power grab.

Turning Seminole Blue for 2006

On the big WALK we did last week, I ran into a few Dems who were pessimistic about winning in November--this despite the super job the GOP is doing in helping us get out the vote by being so corrupt and incompetent. I explained it to them like this: There are around 105,000 Republicans registered in Seminole County, and there are around 79,000 registered Democrats. BUT, there are 55,000 independents, which are leaning heavily Democratic.

Add this to the thousands who are not registered to vote, (and we trying to register as many as possible). Add this to the fact that many Republicans tell me they are upset by the abandonment of their "conservative" principles (outrageous deficit spending and pork barrel spending, the tripling of the size of government, government intrusion into our private lives, anti-life stem cell veto, and not to mention immigration and port security), and are opting to vote either with us or 3rd party this election-- then maybe, just maybe, you can see why I don't share your pessimism?

Granted, we have an uphill battle. We face an opposition that has gerrymandered like crazy, abuses the power of incumbency, and has no scruples when it comes to winnning. And we have to watch our current elections chief carefully (and we are!)

But folks, if more people who are tired of this mess will help us by donating, or if you can't, volunteering--so we can get out the Democratic vote, we will win. It is based on turnout: only a small percentage of registered voters vote in non-presidential election years (yet they vote in American Idol--go figure). The GOP is not motivated, but we are! We are motivated for change! (How many GOPs want to volunteer their time working to keep things the way they are?) We can and will win the turnout war. If we can get almost EVERY Democrat to come out and vote in this election, we WILL WIN IN A LANDSLIDE.

It's up to you. I don't know when we will get another chance like this...


QUICK QUOTE:
Rumsfield 2006: "I have never painted a rosy picture. I have been very measured in my words,and you'd have a dickens of a time trying to find where I have been excessively optimistic."


Rumsfield 2003: "It is unknowable how long this conflict will last.
It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.
There is no question but that they would be welcomed." "

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Daily Kos and Seminole Co.

I essentially posted the same entry on the "sleepover" voting machines here in Seminole a few days ago as a diary on the most popular progressive blog: dailykos.com. It had thousands of hits according to the counter, and I thought you might enjoy reading the comments. It was an interesting discussion.