Number of Days Until The 2020 General Election

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Using radio to inflict pain

I don't know what it is about right wingers and their incessant need to put down a certain class or segment of our national community but there it is nevertheless. Don Imus' unceremonious exit has not even faded from our topical consciousness and the public is being greeted with another conservative radio "personality" to fill the intellectual void with even more vacuousness. We learn that MSNBC is replacing their simulcast with another Imus clone: Michael Smerconish. Media Matters gives us the bad news:

"According to an April 20 article on, the website of The Philadelphia Inquirer, "The Big Talker 1210 AM morning show of Daily News columnist Michael Smerconish is to be simulcast Monday through Wednesday on MSNBC." The article noted that Smerconish will fill the slot previously held by Imus in the Morning. MSNBC announced on April 11 that it would no longer broadcast Imus [...]"

Then we are given several examples of Smerconish's "shtick." This one in particular stands out because of it's snide aside to gays:

"Substituting for host Bill O'Reilly on the April 4, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, Smerconish repeatedly discussed "the sissification of America," claiming that political correctness has made the United States "a nation of sissies." Smerconish also claimed, several times, that this "sissification" and "limp-wristedness" is "compromising our ability to win the war on terror."

At the point it is not that big of a stretch to come to the conclusion that the only reason right wing radio is able to succeed is by appealing to the lowest common denominator of human beings. MSNBC must be aware of this formula because their search didn't take long. All they had to do was dig deeper than Imus and see what was underneath to continue that success. Congratulations MSNBC. Your probing of those depths just hit pay dirt.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gun control editorials off and running in the wake of Virgina Tech University tragedy

Well, that didn't take long. The opinion column hand wringing has already begun in light of the tragedy in Blacksburg. I could link to the roll of right-wing/conservative arm wavers already calling for "cooler heads" to prevail but I won't. Instead I'll just highlight one: Michelle Malkin.

In this morning's Florida Times-Union, Ms. Malkin's lastest Pavlovian screed is an op-ed feature entitled: "Arm Students for Self Defense." Before I get to the context of her outburst, something curious about the article's title struck me. Since the FTU doesn't have it included on their web site I did a little searching and found the same article posted throughout the net with an entirely different title: "Wanted: A Culture of Self Defense." This discreptncy in the title tweeked my curiosity somewhat. So I decided to try a little dot connection here. My guess is, very late last evening Ms. Malkin's syndicated column was posted for the morning editions on her clientele list. I can almost see the raised eye-brows over the title in late night editorial meetings. They thought better of it and softened her original title. I've not been able to find the title in this morning's FTU edition anywhere else on the net. OTOH, the other title previously mentioned is everywhere. But then again our local paper's editorial board is like no other and the legacy of Lloyd Brown that still resides in the halls on the fifth floor wouldn't question anything from the venomous pens of Malkin, Coulter, Thomas and et al anyway.

Though it is very tempting to breakdown Malkin's regurgitation of NRA views, toned down and repackaged for low-brow conservative family consumption, there is really no need to. All that's needed is one small excerpt for context before we can find a shorter version of Malkin's diatribe on You Tube. You see, all Michelle is doing is channeling Archie Bunker from "All In The Family" fame. How, you may ask? First, as promised, the excerpt from this morning's column for context:
"The back story: Virginia Tech had
punished a student for bringing a handgun to class last spring-despite the fact
that the student had a valid concealed handgun permit."
You really can't make this stuff up can you? Well, Norman Lear already did over thirty years ago:

Actually, when this episode first aired I nearly pulled a muscle for laughing so hard. Except now, its not so funny. The Michelle Malkins of the world is suggesting we arm every student. In fact why not do what the indomitable Mr. Bunker suggested for the airlines industry and turn it around to fit the classroom? Hand out the pistols on the way in like a student handout and then collect them at the end of class like homework?

Maybe the Apocalypse is upon us after all.
A "clean-cut" appearance, $600.00 and a non-suspicious demeanor get's you a Glock 9 mm in Virginia

In yesterday’s Florida Times-Union, the front page story about Cho Seung-Hui, the Virginia Tech University gunman responsible for 33 dead and over two dozen wounded, had this curious quote from the gun owner who sold the gun:

Roanoke Firearms owner John Markell said his shop sold the Glock and a box of practice ammo to Cho 36 days ago for $571.
"He was a nice, clean-cut college kid. We won't sell a gun if we have any idea at all that a purchase is suspicious," Markell said.

What I found curious was his contention that Seung-Hui was a, “clean-cut college kid.” Well, isn’t that nice. The troubled VTU student’s appearance was so disarming he washed away any suspicion of evil intentions. I don’t know about anyone else, but how can one not be put at ease by that shrug of the shoulders?

The laxness of the gun laws in Virginia is apparently an indication that gun retailers are responsible for the use of discretion when selling fire arms. Wow. Mr. Markell certainly failed that test. I mean it was easy to see why with this particular purchaser being “clean-cut” and all. Mr. Markell’s other contention was they won’t sell a gun, “....if we have any idea at all that a purchase is suspicious.” I’m wondering how the need to purchase a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic couldn’t be used for anything else other than shooting someone. Not being a gun owner and very far from having any real knowledge of firearms I guess I don’t understand the cult that swirls around the ownership of these kinds of weapons.

After what happened on the Blacksburg campus this past Monday morning, I’m not sure I want to.t

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mercury Rising?

Last week Mercury Falling had an important report regarding a possible policy change by the EPA and the federal Toxic Release Inventory [TRI]:

“…the EPA might be working to keep this data (the Toxic Release Inventory) secret in the future, according to Environmental Florida. The TRI report comes out once a year, however, EPA wants to stop making this report public. EPA doesn't want the public to know how toxic our environment has become, as they've stripped the rules on emissions to help new coal plants go on line, the group said.”

As the report points out the suppression of this data would keep the general public in the dark regarding the emission of mercury levels by their public utility. Mercury falling also provides a link to the report that will give the mercury levels in your zip code.

Last week I was fortunate enough to have the Edwards ’08 campaign contact me about media credentials for the Senator’s appearance at FCCJ South Campus’ Wilson Center. I was hoping to be able to ask Sen. Edwards about his campaign’s position on a possible policy shift by the EPA to suppress this data. The event did not provide me the opportunity I had hoped for so I could put this question before the Senator.

Today I took advantage of that contact and e-mailed the Edwards campaign’s Online Communications Director and forwarded my questions regarding the TRI and EPA’s policy regarding that report. Let’s hope any response I get will include an official position that supports this report remaining in the public domain.

Update: link in original post for Mercury Falling now fixed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Matthews Bridge delays cause chaos in Jacksonville's working class community

Jacksonville’s new series of alternative commuter routes began this morning as the FDOT began the planned $12.9 million dollar resurfacing project for the Matthews Bridge. The eastbound lanes are scheduled to be closed for the next 90 days, taking us to the middle of July, and promises to cause major disruptions of traffic patterns throughout the Arlington, Southside and Beaches area for the duration. Once again the working community seems to be ignored while the needs of the NFL & the Jacksonville Jaguars become a focus of concern at their expense. If the chaos exhibited by this first day's massive delays are any indication, the next 89 days aren't going to be pretty. To understand why, let’s try and connect a few dots here.

Anyone who has children of school age knows very well the complicated logistics of family scheduling involved when devising a way to get your child to school on time without interfering with your ability to provide for them. For this complicated dance to work a series of rush hour traffic patterns, work schedules and a juggling act of morning and afternoon drop offs are weaved together to manage family timing needs.

Casual perusal of the Duval County Public School calendar shows us school actually ends for students on May25th. I was somewhat at a loss to understand why this FDOT project did not start until after the last day of school until I examined the just released 2007 schedule for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Call me cynical, but one can’t imagine why working families are not only having their time schedules thrown out of kilter but their budgets compromised as well. At $2.82 cents a gallon it doesn’t take a CPA to figure out that an extra 30 minutes to an hour begins to add up expense wise when one is sitting in a traffic jam where everything comes to a standstill except the gas gauge. Then there is the question of a parent or custodian not being able to make it home on time to prepare for evening routines assuming of course their child has been picked up in a timely manner.

But woe be unto the FDOT and the Jacksonville city government to disrupt a preseason schedule for a professional sports franchise where rumblings of the team relocating has just been introduced into the lexicon of media discourse the past couple of months. The scope of this post doesn’t cover what surly must be arm waving of Jaguar higher ups over revenue already lost over a new name for the old Gator Bowl. But compound that with concern about franchise revenue expectations that might become untenable in this media market and you have a recipe ripe for further extortion by the NFL with threats of departure to greener pastures unless the city ante’s up to make up the difference in expected profit margins.

The current estimate of 90 days needed for the project to alter traffic routes takes us to July 17th. Delaying the project to start on May 28th, the Monday after the last day of school, 90 days later would fall on August 25th. Only the two pre-season games on August 18th and possibly August 30th [which more than likey would be inside a window for delays in construction]
would be disrupted under this scenario. No matter how practical that sounds, I’m sure the NFL would never settle for that. At the risk of upsetting NFL management sensibilities, why not just make the available lanes during construction westbound in the morning and eastbound in the evening to keep traffic congestion at a minimum? Now really, how complicated could it be?

If nothing else this whole exercise only serves to reinforce the image of a city government groveling at the feet of the NFL while the needs of the working community are pushed aside. Not only that, why go to all this trouble when studies for a new bridge have already been done proposing new construction, on the order of $700 million dollars, along side the old one with eight lanes?

Once again, the needs of the Jacksonville working community and it's families are being ignored. Catering to special interests is usually symptomatic of one party dominance and this is no exception. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my worksheet is complete and my dots all connect up. What a surprise.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Video of John Edwards' Jacksonville Appearance on Thursday, 4/12/07

While I was researching a wrap analysis of Senator Edwards' speech this past Thursday at FCCJ's South Campus here in Jacksonville, FL, I stumbled across this video of the event posted on You Tube. It captures the crowd nicely and my best extimate for the size would be about 400. The Florida Times Union said 300, while CNN (I lost the url on this one) estimated it to be around 500. (How's that for sticking my neck out?.....I figured somehwere in the middle.) Anyway, nice job by this person who posted it up. I thought about bringing my video camera as well, but with a laptop, digital camera and jockeying for position I knew it wouldn't be practical. The video is a little of 4:00 minutes long and it captures the essence of the speech.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

John Edwards in San Francisco, 3/26/07

I'm still trying to put together a post about this past Thursday night's speech by John Edwards at the FCCJ South Campus Wilson Center. It's been a really busy weekend for me and my family and time has been limited to work on the post. I want to be able to put what he said in a larger context because I was so struck by his vision and thoughts on the key issues in the campaign . My research brought me across this clip of a recent appearance in San Francisco nearly three weeks ago discussung three of the issues he covered Thursday night. It's a posting on You Tube and it capured nicley what he's been saying about Iraq, his energy plan and universal health care.

Friday, April 13, 2007

John Edwards this past Thursday

I'm still working on a wrap for this part Thursday's appearance. It's turning out to be longer than I expected because the scope of the analysis keeps expanding. I'm finding some interesting sources to parallel the piece the more I find out.
Duval County Registered Voters Report

One of the projects I'm starting is a weekly voter registration tracking report for Duval County. Eventually, I hope the scope of this weekly effort widens to include a five county area making up what is generally accepted as the First Coast: Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Baker and Nassau counties. I don't yet know if the logistics will permit such a report without monetary expenditures or obstacles from the respective supervisor of elections offices. But if they exist and/or can be overcome I will eventually increase the breadth of this report to include the First Coast.

The start date for this initial effort will be 4/4/07 and end on 12/31/07. Weekly tabulations will be posted each Friday charting gains or losses from the previous Friday posting. Once four weeks passes I'll include a graph/chart giving a visual representation of gains for the respective parties: Democrats, Republicans and Others as reported by the office of
Duval County Supervisor of Elections. Daily numbers are available for you to see at the that link, but they are not tracked to give you an idea of those gains over a period of time.

Let's take a look at the numbers for our first report - Duval County.

Totals for Friday - 4/13/07

  • Total registered voters: 546,239
  • Total registered Democrats: 245,234
  • Total registered Republicans: 201,337
  • Total registered Others: 99,668

Totals for Friday - 4/06/07

  • Total registered voters: 545,963
  • Total registered Democrats: 245,121
  • Total registered Republicans: 201,274
  • Total registered Others: 99,568

Gains for the week

  • New registered voters: 276
  • New registered Democrats: 113
  • New registered Republicans: 63
  • New registered Others: 100

Gains to date from 4/04/07 to 04/13/07

  • New registered voters: 649
  • New registered Democrats: 215
  • New registered Republicans: 187
  • New registered Others: 247

The Democrats win the week by 13 new new registered voters, while they pick up 50 more than the GOP. To date gains since 4/04/07 show new registered voters other than Democrats or Republicans leading the way with 247 beating out the Democrats by 32 and the Republicans by 6o. The Democrats lead Republicans for new registered voters to date (since 4/04/07) by 28. As of 4/13/07 registered Democrats lead Republicans by 43,897.

I'll try and recover the new registered voters from 01/01/07 to 4/03/07 for a more complete annual gains to date picture depending on whether or not the Duval County Supervisor of Elections will supply them to me. I should know by the next report. The current gap between Democrats and Republicans posed some interesting questions.

Conventional wisdom tells us the current slate of registered Democrats are a vestige from a time gone past where a significant number of them are old "Dixiecrats" or conservatives who never bothered to switch parties. My neighbor across the street is a perfect example. As he explained it to me, he's been a registered Democrat since he began voting. But at this stage in his life, he continues to vote GOP in the general election no matter who the Democratic nominee is. Without access to demographic data to track the trends, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that the new registered voters are the key here for the future success of the Democratic Party. If that is the case, the Democrats have their job cut for them if the gap between themselves and the GOP is to widen and thereby erect a built-in advantage that already exists in the actual numbers.

Joe Lieberman enodorses......

.......[insert drum roll here].....Susan Collins for U.S. Senate! He caucuses with the Democrats and had himself elected on a "Connecticut for Lieberman (Independent Democratic - CN)" ticket. So, no matter who the Democratic nominee is, he's endorsing Collins. Not hard to figure out why as we find out from Joe Sudbay via Americablog: "They were -- and are -- the ranking Republican and Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that has done NOTHING to hold the Bush administration accountable for Iraq or Katrina or any other issue really."

As each day goes by and with each appearance on FOXNews it becomes more clear why in early 2003 Al Gore did not bother to phone Lieberman and inform him he was not running again. I'm still waiting for 2008 when the Democrats pick up a couple of additional seats and Harry Reid can relegate Lieberman to trash collector.
John Edwards: "We need to become patriotic about something more than just this war."

Last night this was the line from the speech that got the most enthusiastic and longest lasting ovation. Later today I'll talk about Sen. Edwards speech last evening and flesh out the important themes he presented and how critical they are for the new leadership we so desperately need in this country right now. The speech was very impressive and well thought out. It reminded me of John F. Kennedy on so many levels.

Right now Senators Obama and Clinton have staked out positions that cut against the base of the Democratic Party. Senator Clinton especially has painted herself in a corner by stating emphatically that a continued major military presence will remain behind in Iraq in her administration.

Later, I'll wrap up last night's event with an analysis of the speech and post all the photos taken on photobucket so anyone can share last night's experience on some level. It was a great night and frankly, somewhat exhausting.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

We're On!

Ok. We're off. The Wilson center is a center with several rooms and we are in a room I wasn't expected to be in. It looks like the room holds about 150 people and its already overloaded. I know the candidate will not show up until 7:30 because in political time 6:30pm means 7:30 pm.

The room is overflowing now and I've got a friend helping me with photos so we can get those posted right away. The Venue is really nice becaue I understand Sen. Edwards may take questions. Let's see if we can't get a photo or two down loaded.

Looks like they've closed the doors to the room and the overflow crowd is going to have to watch the festivities out in the hall on a wide screen T.V. Lucky me. Here's a photo of the room and stage area.

The pictures above are a general shot of the room and the lcoal town criers all in full press mode.. The buzz in the room is palatable along with the heat. To many people here and this many bodies is making it uncomfortable. But man, what a crowd!


No more photos on the fly until afterwards. The crowd is really getting larger. I can see more people in the hallway now because they have had to open the doors for some air. This is really awesome this many people showing up and it's April! I guess all these people in the room have their taxes done.....


The press looks bored. Good. I guess they haven't read some of my stuff about them, so I'm not getting dirty looks. There's a guy near the stage with a hat and a wooden donkey on top. You usually don't see that kind of stuff until convention season. I see Travis Bridges the DCDEC Chair all decked out. I can also see Leslie Gollier, former candidate for Dist. 5 City Council. She made an announcement to the crowd the Sen. is on his way, about 20 minutes.


These photos are upsetting my aesthetic sensibilities of the site. I'm seriously considering yanking them and posting the later with some commentary. Yeah, I think I'll do that by the next post to make this all more readable.


There, that's better. Let's see if I can make this thing go a little faster. I'll do a photo posting later. Live and learn. My formats were going crazy and I couldn't line anything up. I hate blogger.


Dignitaries are starting to fill the stage. Looks like local union officials. I can't tell if it's IBEW or CWA. Anyway, this surely means he's close.


This experiment isn't going bad. I just need to figure out how to manipulate Blogger better.


Still waiting for the candidate. Some people are standing and just looking around. I see Leslie Gollier talking on her cell. The Sen. must be here or close by. Everyone seems anxious and there is a cook buzz going on about the Senator. I already see a hat and a shirt I want.


The Senator is here. He's going to a ready room and then coming right in. A lot of people are standing now in anticipation. This is awesome. Wayne Hogan the host of the private fund raiser earlier just walked in, so the Sen. is definetly about to make his entrance.


I can hear applause out in the hallway so he must be making his way here. Now the student gov. rep. for FCCJ is now doing the intoduction. The poor guy is nervous....but he's saying he's glad the Sen. is here to speak about his vision for the country.


Actually I was wrong - imagine that - the stage is filled not with union but student gov. reps from the differnt campuses (sp?). The President of FCCJ South Campus is doing a more former introduciton. He's talking about Sen. Edward's bio a little and about Elizabeth (who's on Larry King tonight btw) talking about the Sen. being the first in his family to attend college.


He. here! Standing ovation. He's right into it. Talking about we are seen as a bully.....a President needs to travel around the world.......America needs to be a nation that celebrates diverslty and how we believe in our heart and soul in equality. Elizabeth is doing very well.


Too many barriers for regular Americans now. The President needs to speak to the world. He's speaking about Darfur - good for him - Wow, he's going down the list about the Sudenese government - knowledgable- speaking about Africa and aids and the richest nation on the planet stands back and does not act. Says we need to stop spending 500 billion dollars in Iraq and do these things to change the world as being a force for good. What about our schools here? He's asking? The world needs to see we are committed to making the planet a better place. Talking about cleaning up our house first and we need to start doing something about Global warming. He's already talking about his ideas: Cap carbon emission by 80% by 2050; auction off the right to emit any green house gas and take the money and invest it back into clean energy technology and ban coal firing plants. Take a billion and put it into Detroit and have American make the most fuel efficient producer of autos. Also asking that we be patriotic about something other than war.


Now he's telling what sacrifices we have to make to get our county back..30 to 40 cents of every dollar goes toward admin costs in health care. Calling for universal healthcare - every American will be covered. Complete mental health parity - long term and chronic care - OUTLAW PRE EXISTING CONDITIONS - subsidize ah. misse that one talking too fast - - 90 to 100 billion dollars a year to pay for his healthcare plan rolling back the tax cuts to the rich......talking about Katrina now....


Talking abou this poverty center in NC. Talking about a book about ending poverty and he's going to talk about one anti poverty idea - - make it easier for kids to go to college - - his idea, College For Everyone. Qualify for college out of HS - state univerity - money for tuition and college costs with a WPA project where the student works for the college money and mke it affordable. Missing some of this - - applause loud - - Last year in America the top 300,000 income earners made more than the bottom 150 million. Something's wrong when that happens. We need to make the bottom 150 million feel part of the way up - - heading for Iraq now - - Says he has a simple view about Iraq - - America needs to be leaving Iraq. Sunni - Shia dispute is not solvable - need to engage in Syrians and Iranians and deal wtih Iraq honestly with ourselves and the rest of the world. Now he's asking us to work for these goals. Asking us to sacrifice - - talking about Elizabeth - - talking about asking Elizabeth what she needed on hearing the bad news about her cancer - - she told him she needed him to stay in the race and cause for America. Talking about his family gets great health care coverage. But what about he rest of America? When other people get the bad news they got they get up and go to work the next morning. We need to right this.


Now he's saying what are you willing to do for your country. Whar are you going to do for this country - - the room is quite - - you can hear a pin drop - - he's got the crowd in his hand - - here's a question for all of us? Will or can we make this country the country of the 21st Century? What can you do? When you leave tonight will you ask yourself what will you do for this country if you love it so much? Talking about the Texas Ranger now - - Bush saying go shopping - buy a computer - and Bush and Cheney will take care of you. Don't want them taking care of me. We are cowering in the corner. We are stong and courageous - its time to stand up - - time for the Democrats to stand up band be bold and creative - - time for us to lead again. The country needs US. Talking about what we need to do for the countyr - - we have to do it! Finshes up with a god bless you. Standing "O." Awesome speech! He talked so fast I couldn't get a lot of it and I know how disjointed it all was.


He's now working the crowd and signing autographs. Some people are standing back and just watching, but most are trying to get closer reaching out to him. Lot's of camera's going off. He's only a few feet from me and I can't get over how personable he is. Very nice job Senator. Going to drop the laptop here and walk over to see if I can get a nice close shot.......


Ok. The Senator just left. The crowd is dispersing. I just talked to Wayne Hogan and scored an interview ok with him in the near future. Well, getting ready to head out getting home to the family and putting up a wrap up post before the evening is out. This turned out very nice and it looks like I'll be doing this again. Next time maybe a little better now that I now the dynamic involved here.

Update: Live Blogging Edwards

I'm getting ready to head out and prepare for this evenings event with Sen. Edwards. The luck of the stars have granted me media/press credentials, so I'll be blogging from the press riser with an excellent view. Sen. Edwards is in town to participate in a fund raiser hosted by former Congressional candidate Wayne Hogan then he'll head over to FCCJ's South Campus in the Wilson Center.

I should arrive by 6:30pm and very shortly there after I'll begin by logging on and doing what I can to capture the festivities and what was said in print. As I mentioned in previous posts, if this experiment works out I'll be live blogging other political events in town when a wireless environment makes it possible. Let's hop it works out.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Goodby Donnie, you racist homophobe

Media Matters is reporting that MSNBC has just dropped Imus. Now it's up to CBS, where Imus' show originates, to decide what to do with every major advertiser now fleeing the show. I don't see how he survives that.

What I don't understand about this is the focus on him, and I realize it is, after all, his show. He has said some awful things for sure, but those side kicks of his: McGuirk and McCord. The things those mouth breathers spew out on his show make Archie Bunker look like a Renaissance man.

And for those that still want to defend him, here is a sample of his remarks of the past :

On the New York Knicks: "chest-bumping pimps the New York Crips."
On superstar Gloria Estefan: "this little Chihuahua-looking 'ho."
On serial gay-killer Andrew Cunannan: "Why are they bothering to catch this guy? He's just whacking off freaks!"
On Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a Native American: "The guy from F Troop."
On CNN's female anchors: "dyke-ie broads."

Media Mattes has a breakdown of Imus and sidekick asides that will curl your hair. (i.e.: On Imus, McGuirk said that "bitch" Clinton will "have cornrows and gold teeth" )

Good riddance.

Live Blogging Edwards

Up until late this afternoon, I wasn't sure I could pull this off. After resolving a logistical problem I'm almost certain this is a go. If this experiment goes off as planned I'm going to try and make this a regular practice whenever a wireless connection is available. The event starts at 6:00pm for a scheduled visit by John Edwards at 7:00pm at the FCCJ South Campus, Wilson Room. More details later this evening. I have one more small logistical problem that I think is very doable and then we should be on. For those that can't attend but would like to know what was said and who was seen, this is the place to be. Stay tuned....
Bush's wars are now radioactive to the military

The desparation of the WH trying to hold together their efforts, whatever they are, in Iraq and Afghanistan just became embarrassingly public. (h/t to Atrios at Eschaton) Kevin Drum over at Washington Monthly has the goods:

"At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position[a "high-powered czar" who would have authority over both military and civilian operations in Iraq and Afghanistan], the sources said, underscoring the administration's difficulty in enlisting its top recruits to join the team after five years of warfare that have taxed the United States and its military." Ouch. I think at this point it is safe to say Bush no longer has the confidence of the military. Incompetence can do that. How do we know? Let retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan instruct us:

"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " he said."

As a student of history most of my life, I can't recall a WH occupant that has ever been faced with this kind of reaction from our military leaders. They seemed to have figured out they are nothing more than political fodder used at his pleasure when it suits him. Otherwise they are seen as nothing more than underlings who's responsibility rests with showing constitutional deference and a sycophantic public posture at the expense of their own dignity when policies are in conflict with military practicality. Though I feel it couldn't happen to a better guy, I fear he as damaged the office of President in a way that is beyond repair.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

John Edwards leading in Iowa - tied for second in Florida

I know it's absurdly early for this stuff but I think it's starting to intrude on the consciousness of the blogosphere no matter what we do. The money being raised in amounts that defy the old conventional wisdom is dazzlingly jaw dropping and the local appearances already of McCain and Obama make it ridiculous if you try to ignore it. Now that John Edwards is coming to town on Thursday let's drop all pretense and give it the coverage it seems to merit. The national blogs are already on it. Daily Kos, Atrios, Mydd and Americablog have been following the money being raised and noting how the Dems are out pacing their GOP counterparts and out drawing them as well regarding public appearances. In any event, there's to much of a horse race aspect that's too intriguing to overlook and after all for us junkies it's plain fun. Let's get to it, shall we?

Chris Bowers over at Mydd has the latest polling data giving us a look at the field to date:

Iowa, 1/14: Edwards 30.3%, Clinton 26.8%, Obama 19.5% (four polls, all post Vilsack)
Nevada, 1/19: Clinton 32%, Obama 18.5%, Edwards 13.5% (two polls, one includes Gore)

New Hampshire, 1/22: Clinton 31.2%, Obama 25.6%, Edwards 19.8% (five polls, one poll includes Gore)
South Carolina, 1/29: Obama 29.5%, Clinton 28%, Edwards 18.5% (two polls)
Michigan (1/29 possible): Clinton 36.3%, Obama 26.8%, Edwards 16.3% (four polls)
Florida (1/29 possible): Clinton 35.3%, Obama 16.3%, Edwards 16% (three polls, one includes Gore)

The pleasant surprise here is that Edwards is now tied with Obama here in Florida. I really like the way Edwards is leading on the issues he has chosen to make an early stand on while the other consultant driven campaigns are standing around holding hands with focus groups. Edwards seems to be choosing the issues he knows will generate tantalizing media buzz making the other candidates react: the Fox debates, the Reid-Feingold bill and his mea culpa on Iraq which is aimed straight at Clinton.

Polling Report has more breakdowns and numbers to crunch if you are up for it.
Bread & Circuses

Well now, an Iraqi government insider has informed us the run-of-the-mill Iraqi citizen on the street hates us. Got that? Now it's official. A government insider says it is. So it must be true! That government insider is Ali A. Allawi. In his new book, "The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace," he crystallizes his perspective into language even a fanatical die-hard Bush supporter can understand:

"In a rueful reflection on what might have been, an Iraqi government insider details in 500 pages the U.S. occupation's "shocking" mismanagement of his country - a performance so bad, he writes, that by 2007 Iraqis had "turned their backs on their would-be liberators."
"The corroded and corrupt state of Saddam was replaced by the corroded, inefficient, incompetent and corrupt state of the new order," Ali A. Allawi concludes in "
The Occupation of Iraq," newly published by Yale University Press.[..]"

In my best Gomer Pyle voice, "Shazam!" So, I want to make sure I've got this right: by 2007 Iraqi's had "turned their backs on their would be liberators." Yet, another Gomer Pyle reaction is called for here, "Goooooooollie!" Ya think? But remember the key point here, the author is a government insider, a former trade, defense and finance minister who happens to be Oxford educated. There is no doubt the reasons he gives for the average Iraqi citizen to foment resentment against the U.S. occupation is valid. What is striking though is the one reason he and others, especially the United States, leave out that happens to be a very telling and glaring omission.

Back in February, 2006, I posted about that one glaring omission Mr. Allawi sees fit to not mention:

"As David Fromkin points out in his “A Peace To End All Peace” in 1914 the Ottoman Empire, which included today’s Iraq despised what they called “the Capitulations.” This was a common colonial law that said local and Ottoman authority was not recognized to have any jurisdiction over westerners, especially American and British citizens. The only authority that was recognized to deal with them was through their respective consulates. This only served to fuel unbounded enmity and hatred among the local citizens for western governments and their citizens. Bremer and the coalition government initiating the very same decrees only reinforced those memories and prejudices and sealed the doom of any foreign intervention no matter how benevolent. This is even more heavily reinforced through the WH’s treatment of American casualties vs. those of Iraqi casualties. Our mainstream media and the American government hardly ever brings up the issue of Iraqi casualties while the main concern always seems to be centered on “coalition force” casualties. Somehow the Iraqi dead and wounded just aren’t worthy as human beings on the same level to be considered."

How's that for a reason to hate your occupiers? This law, enacted by the provisional government, on a daily basis reminds the average Iraqi citizen they are not quite human in the eyes of the American government. They fall into a legally recognized status, through the offices of the provisional government, of sub-human existence because we are somehow above their local laws and customs. All the other reasons Allawi lists in his book are nothing more than background noise compared to this.

I'm reminded of the Bread & Circuses aspect of Roman government administration to hide their real problems. The "surge," a sanitized name used by the powers-that-be, to anesthetize the pain of human lives wasted only compounds the problem because having 150,000+ plus troops on the ground is 150,000+ reminders that Americans are above the law. Sending over more troops would only prove to be more reminders we are above the law and they are somehow below us.

So, no thank you Mr. Allawi. I'm sure your book makes fine reading over at the Hoover Institute and A.E.I. though.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Local Democratic Party News

I was at the local DCDEC HQ this afternoon and spent a few minutes with Travis Bridges, the new Chair. He has agreed to an interview next week about where he would like to take the party and where he expects it to be in the near future. Owen Holmes over at Flog, worried at sounding ageist, referenced Travis' age and wondered whether or not the party needed a fresh face with energy. My experience to date proves those concerns are unfounded. One of the major advantages Travis offers beyond his experience is the fact he takes on his position as Chair as a full time job without a competitive "day job" getting in the way. So far he seems open to new and fresh ideas and is more than committed to take the party in a new direction to expand the party base. The DCDEC's new blog is a step in that direction.

My interview with Travis will be the first in a series of interviews I have planned. I intend to include all five county chairs in the immediate area as well. I hope to get a handle on where the Democratic Party is going in northeast Florida and compare notes on how to make it stronger.

Earlier I mentioned the new DCDEC blog. This is a great step forward trying to engage local Democrats and offer a critical online tool for interaction and an exchange of ideas. An online presence shows the local party is open to change and encourages new activism for those that are more comfortable in a virtual meeting place not constrained by personal schedules one might find in a younger demographic.

On my way to the DCDEC HQ this afternoon I was listening in to a jaw dropping interview between Andy Johnson on his "Down To Business With Andy Johnson" program heard on AM 1320 with former house majority leader and about to be convicted felon Tom DeLay promoting his book, "No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight." I thought I was listening to a slo-pitch soft ball game the way Johnson served up those easy arcing pitches. I don't think Johnson challenged him on anything he said with any authority. I didn't hear all the interview, but what I did hear Johnson allowed DeLay to frame all the issues through GOP spin. I would have thought Johnson would have at least asked DeLay about his appearance on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" program where he was shown up as not even aware of what was said in his own book. Or Johnson might have asked him why he titled his book "No Retreat, No Surrender" since he resigned from his seat, giving up his fight for re-election and moved out of Texas. Perhaps Johnson could have asked DeLay about his trip to the Marianas Islands where American corporations can claim 'Made In America' on their clothes while employing labor at slave wages and forcing abortions on thier workers who "immigrated" to the islands thinking they were in America. Again, I didn't hear the entire interview and Johnson may have challenged him on some issues earlier in the program. If he did, good for him. By the way, if you follow the link to his book I provided on some of the customer comments reviewing it are priceless. Check them out.

I see in today's paper Johnny Gaffney tells the Florida Times-Union he's"very, very conservative" politically: "Gaffney said he would describe himself as "very, very conservative" politically. He said he is a Democrat because historically, the Republican Party's policies have focused on individual wealth, whereas Democrats have supported social programs that create opportunities for people to advance. He said those non-profit programs "need to be run like corporate America" with accountability for their results." Mr. Gaffney finds himself in a District 7 run-off with Carolyn Anderson (D). No comment needed here. Truman's Conscience endorses Carolyn Anderson.

More details coming on the prospect of live blogging the Edwards event on Thursday.
The Collapse of Air America Radio

I just read where Sam Sedar will no longer have his 9:00am morning show. With the demise of Morning Sedition with Marc Maron and Al Franken leaving to run for the U.S. Senate this more or less kills what was a promising outlet for liberal and progressive views. Now the new owner, Marc Green, the poor man's version of a liberal, has effectively killed off what was with this new move.

Green, who is nothing more than a LINO (Liberal In Name Only) will now complete the mutation of Air America into something liberal/progressives will surely shun while the O'Reilly's of the world will howl with delight and boast that liberal/progressive views are not a viable perspective for success in mainstream media markets. Of course Pacifica Radio won't get any mention because of its low media profile. It's more like a C-Span version of news and commentary with a liberal/progressive perspective preaching to the choir. This format will not be drawing new markets for listeners because its not designed to. The promise of Air America was to introduce these views to a more mainstream audience open to change and fresh thinking.

The Thom Hartman Show, which replaced the departing Al Franken, is so dull it would drop a charging rhino into a coma while Randi Rhodes is like fingers across a chalk board with her repetitious rants. The only semblance of anything remarkable left is the wonderful Rachel Maddow who has somehow evaded Green's penchant for killing a golden goose so far. The rest of the shows left are just time fillers with no future.

Air America, we hardly knew ye. So long.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Live Blogging Thrusday's Edwards Event

It's very likely I'll be live blogging the Edwards event this Thursday night, April 12th at the FCCJ South campus at 7:00mp. Since I'm a member of the DCDEC I might be able to get credentials for prime seating to the event. More details to follow as they come.....

Update: The Edwards event has been confirmed for Thrusday at 7:00pm, not Wednesday as previously reported.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Can Crist save the Florida Republican Party from itself?

As far as scorecards go I think we can award round 1 to Gov. Christ in his clash with the State of Florida Attorney General, Bill McCullom:

"He wagged his finger at attorney Rob Wheeler, the clemency expert in Crist's office. He shouted "Point of order!" after catching Crist on a parliamentary mistake. He "yielded myself back my time," the way they talk in Washington. When McCollum accidentally referred to Crist as "Mister" (Mr. Chairman, presumably), Crist shot him an icy glare and said: "It's ... Governor." [Emphasis mine] There's more at work here than a clash of philosophies. By taking a hard-line stand on this one issue, McCollum may have just inherited the mantle of the anti-Crists, conservatives who think Crist has moved too far to the left too fast."

Oh my. Looks like Bill McCullom is no Roberto Gonzales in the area of blind loyalty to the chief executive. And then there's McCollum's problem with that word most Republicans reach for when the debate is lost or the argument runs against them:

"There it is again. The L-word.
As a U.S. Senate candidate in 2000, McCollum called Democrat Bill Nelson a liberal.
As a U.S. Senate candidate again in 2004, McCollum called Mel Martinez a liberal trial lawyer Crist supported Martinez."

Unfortunately for McCollum and the winger crowd the image and face that represents the Republican party was not only a personal injury lawyer but a,

"Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."
~Abraham Lincoln

As if that's not bad enough then there's that last old vestige of Jim Crow: having felons stripped of their voting rights preserving the GOP stereotype of intolerance. It's becoming increasingly clear Charlie Crist knows where the future of the Florida Republican party lies: the state's minority population. Nancy Scola of summed up nicely what Crist knew he had to do upon taking office:

"Crist is the Republican Governor of Florida who has successfully fought to extend the voting rights to ex-felons in that state. Two of the three members of the clemency board in Florida had to get on board with Crist's plan, and in a bit of a shocker he managed to convince both Democratic CFO Alex Sink and Republican Ag Secretary Charles Bronson. (Not that Charles Bronson. I think.) Manjoo is a bit gobsmacked that a Republican would act in a way that helps Democrats electoral prospects by creating a million new presumably left-leaning voters."

The Majoo she is referring to is Farhad Majoo of Salon Online. The scope of Mr. Majoo's article for Salon, entitled "What was Crist thinking," concentrates on the national GOP efforts of voter suppression through two methods that included the push for prosecution of so-called voter fraud violations and the restriction of poll access with stricter id requirements:

"Crist's move is all the more remarkable when you consider the political backdrop behind the fight for voting rights in America. In an attempt to prevent what they call "voter fraud," Republicans have long called for measures that restrict traditionally Democratic voters' access to the polls. The Bush administration's Justice Department has pushed regulations requiring people to show identification when they vote, and it has moved to aggressively punish alleged fraud -- an effort that contributed to the firing of some of the U.S. attorneys for which the administration now finds itself under fire."

In the Presidential election of 2000, polls projecting a race to close to call was proving that a GOP victory in Florida was problematic. In an attempt to preserve the state's electoral vote for the GOP in a razor thin race Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris orchestrated a purge of felons from the voter rolls. Forget that the vote recount that was stopped by a Supreme Court violating their constitutional jurisdiction over state voting procedures [thereby pushing the fallacy of the right as they cried "How many times do we have to recount to show the same result?]. Forget that several independent recounts proved that Gore won anyway. What mattered was that white conservative political power was being preserved at the expense of minority voter disenfranchisement.

Crist knows all to well what the legacy of Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris means to the minority population in the state. This continuing practice of minority voter disenfranchisement is a road leading to future electoral disaster for the state GOP. He realizes that the only way to avoid this road is to reach out to the minority population represented by the Latino, Hispanic and African-American communities where all demographic trends point to their future majority status. Distancing himself from the Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris and the extreme right faction of his party, currently led by Bill McCullom, is the first step. The second step for Crist's plan is to back the restoration of voting rights for felons. The Pavlovian reaction of the McCullom's faction of the GOP in apoplexy so far isn't a surprise.

McCullom and his brethren would do well to contemplate the fate of Israel and their untenable position of maintaining their majority status as a Jewish state with their current demographic voting trends. They would also do well to peruse some studies showing like demographic voting trends in the state of Florida with the same ominous tones for the state GOP. Mr. Majoo asks ue rhetorically, "What was Crist thinking?" As it turns out, Gov. Crist was wondering wheather or not he could save the future of the Florida Republican party. Whether or not Christ eventually comes out on top in his fight with McCullom's faction is unknown. But what is certain is that the future of the Florida GOP as a viable party of choice for the minority community hangs on the winner of that clash.