Number of Days Until the 2016 Democratic National Convention
Number of Days Until 2016 General Election

A Dream Realized

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

There is so much to write about now. My mind is spinning with so much to say and write. My writer's block has been overcome by the tsunami of joy that has rained down over me. But for the moment while I collect my thoughts let me utter the words aloud as I type them:

To all the world, I present to you Barack Obama:

The 44th President of the United States

August 28th, 1968 in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Wahington D.C.
Martin Luther King, Jr. addresses the nation:

"I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."


This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able
to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true."

Down To The Wire

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Well here we are a little more than 36 hours before the polls in Kentucky close and award the first Electoral College votes of the evening. Since the conventions I have found myself almost unable to post anything about the election this year after obsessing over it for the past four years. I had simply lapsed into a writer’s block mode as I opted instead to obsessively follow the state of the race on a variety of blogs on a daily basis. Now with a little more than a day and a half left to go I feel some kind of release to actually post.

So let me start with my prediction which is at this point driven by paranoia and fear tilting me to the most conservatively optimistic one I can conjure:
I actually believe Florida will slip out of Obama’s grasp. Even with McCain lacking a ground game here in the face of an Obama’s statewide juggernaut GOTV effort it won’t be enough. I had hopes a couple of weeks ago of him being in a position to steal Indiana, North Carolina and Georgia from their red state purgatory. Now I realize it just won’t happen. At one point I was even looking forward to Obama a position to crush this most vile version of Republicanism that has been mutating over the past 28 years into a party that preys on fear and paranoia justifying questions about one’s patriotism and whether certain parts of the country is included in a “real” America.

In these last hours I feel like Obama will still win but only barely. The last time I felt confident and sure of victory was in 1992 and 1996. Those were the only two times I have able to experience that feeling in my voting lifetime. As late as two weeks ago I had that same feeling now as I did in 1992. But with the new world of the Internet and polling technology being open to public scrutiny that has all changed the dynamic for me. I’m back to the hand wringing state I was before the primaries began in January. Even now that seems like a century ago. That’s how weird this dynamic is for me in this world of immediate information and hourly news cycles.

For me I can’t imagine a world where the American electorate would allow Sarah Palin so close to the reins of power. Yet, this is the same electorate that allowed an intellectually challenged and ideologically driven Governor from Texas to keep the reins of power in 2004. With that in mind I should not be surprised how close someone like Sarah Palin is to the reins of power. My memories of election nights gone past are mostly filled with vivid pain and disappointment that has seared them into my conscience as I tend to invest so much emotion into our national political outcomes.

I can still remember that horrible night in 1984 when I was living in North Carolina and driving home from an election watch party on a long and dark highway in the rural Piedmont area. Though intellectually I knew Mondale would be crushed Reagan once he overcame Gary Hart to sew up the nomination I had not realized how devastating it would still be. It can almost be compared to an immediate family member being on a long arc downward of a terminal illness that everyone knows what the final result will be and yet still be devastated once the moment arrives. As I drove home that night on that long lonely road after months of working on the Mondale and Gov. Hunt campaign where he unsuccessfully tried to unseat a racist Sen. Jesse Helms the emotions of it all finally overcame my cool and politically astute intellect. I realized what was happening and I pulled over to the side of the road and wept. As I sat there I couldn’t believe I was feeling this way but there it was.

It was more about the future than the election itself that horrible night. I realized with that win the Republicans had staked out a generational claim on the White House. I knew the country would eventually take a turn backwards toward a baser common denomination of the electorate and appeal to its fears, paranoia and prejudices culminating in someone like George W. Bush taking the reins of government and actually acting on them driving the United States into an intellectually dark period.
Now here we are within 36 hours to right that ship and I’m still not sure we will chose the correct path that will lead us into a new age of reason and intellectual honesty and instead keep allowing our base and dark emotional side of the body politic to decide our path to the future.

I find myself now realizing that if the aggregate persona that has been culminating over the past 28 years in the form of one George W. Bush cannot be overcome now with a financial disaster literally falling around us I can’t see another Democrat in the White House in what is left in my lifetime. The realignment or electoral shift will not be possible within the next two generations. Here’s hoping our body politic will let the better angels of our psyche prevail for the sake of my 2 ½ year old daughter.

My Obama yard signs stolen

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to putting up a couple of "Obama for President" yard signs up in my yard. My house sits on a corner log so I got a sign for both sides. As I was putting them up I pondered how long it would take before they were either defaced or simply stolen. As I live in a neighborhood where registered Democrats are a distinct minority I figured it would not take long. For two weeks I was pleasantly surprised as I pulled in to my driveway noting my signs were still intact. Just yesterday I was thinking as I was pulling in from work maybe I was just being too cynical as the sun seemed to glint off of the bright blue color of my side yard sign nearest my driveway. That was yesterday.

This morning as I sleepily stumbled out into my yard to retrieve my paper my cynicism was validated. Both signs were gone. They were just stolen by someone who actually wanted the signs. They only took the sign itself leaving behind the wire frames. It was their subtle way of telling me that not only did they not want the signs - - they didn't want me to have them either in this "GOP" neighborhood.

I'll be on my way this morning headed out to get two more signs. Looks like the yard sign war is on.

Palin Sequestered From Press?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sequestered? Several blogs are reporting the McCain campaign is putting the word out she will not be available to the press between now and the election. Really? Here's what I think this is really about: expectations. This is so Rovian and transparent. Once the MSM has had a while to raise hell and enough time passes to give Palin enough room to take a crash course in McCain economics and foreign policy a surprise appearance will be announced either on FOXNews or a print interview with the Washington Times/NRO/WSJ and she will easily clear a very low bar and everyone in the MSM will tell us how wonderful she conducted herself. I swear Rove can make Machiavelli look like a member of the Peace Corps.

Jeez.

Sarah Palin's RNC Speech

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Last night was a moment for Palin to introduce herself to the nation and show she is just an average American mom who happens to be the Governor of Alaska. Maybe not someone you'd like to have a beer with (ugh, I hate that insulting comparative) but rather someone you could relate to on a personal level. I guess she started off doing that but as the speech went on (...and on and on) she pivoted and went after Sen. Obama. That's what nationally known V.P. candidates are supposed to do. Sen. Biden was nationally known. Yes, he did a brief biographical intoduction of himself but it was perfunctory and then he lit into McCain and the GOP. As for Ms. Palin she is compelely unknown to voters who don't follow politics like we do and tune in to see what all the media frenzy is about.

I was going to take the time and review the speech myself but over at fivethirtyeight.com contributor Nate pretty much spoke for me in this nice final analysis:
"The way to evaluate a speech like this is by what people are going to remember in the morning, and the only thing that people are going to remember about this speech in the morning is that she went after Obama - a lot -- and that at times it seemed fairly personal. It was almost kind of fun at first -- I don't think people saw it coming, and she got three or four really good lines in. But then it became too much -- sarcastic and mean spirited. Everything else -- the outsider stuff, the family stuff, the media critique -- is going to be forgotten about. In fact, the Republicans will look like whiners if they go after the media after that speech.

I don't think the Republicans are doing as good a job as the Democrats were doing about pairing their speeches to the strengths of the speaker. It's as if they wrote seven or eight speeches, and drew lots to determine who would deliver which one. So you have Mitt Romney -- one of the wealthiest men ever to run for office -- critiquing east-coast elitism, and Mike Huckabee -- who is an economic populist in disguise --critiquing big government, and Sarah Palin -- who voters don't know one iota about -- critiquing Barack Obama's biography."
I could not agree more. As far as I'm concerned this new tact of taking on the MSM is a deadender for them. We on the left complained for awhile during Ronald Raygun's tenure and then threw their hands up at the end of Clinton's two terms and created our own infrastructure.
Nate's post drew a comment that I think really sums up the outcome we can expect as the campaign unfolds:
"Steven said...
Nate,
I think you are right. My wife, who knows next to nothing about Palin (just like the rest of America...), watched the speech and told me, "She sounds really mean." I guess that's one feminist Palin's not winning over...."
We'll see but I think she just pushed away the independent female vote whom she was supposed to woo by her selection. Instead she just fired up a shrinking, rabid evangelical base with a martyr complex. I thought it was ironic the night before Bush referenced the "angry left." Last night with Palin following Guiliani it looked like a pretty "angry right."

Tracy Flick? Try Regina George

I was browsing the blogosphere last night after Palin's speech and was struck by the comparisons to the Tracy Flick chracter from the 1999 movie Election with Reese Witherspoon playing the aforementioned character. I'll have to admit to not seeing that movie.

For me, Palin's snarky tirade last night with an effervesant grin at the end of her speech reminded me of the movie character Regina George from Tina Fey's 2004 triumph Mean Girls. I feel this is a perfect representation of charm and vibrance masking total disdain for those who don't "measure up" (i.e. community organizers). The perfect metaphor for the social Darwinism conservatives love to practice, (i.e. Palins line item veto for funding pregnant teen safe houses.)

Enjoy:


The Sarah Palin Rabbit Hole of Distraction

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sometimes my issue with the so-called "librul media" is the same issue I have with the liberal blogosphere: focusing on planted distractions. In the case of Sarah Palin's daughter and her under aged pregnancy I have to wonder. Remember that African American boy in Atlanta serving time for his under aged sexcapade with a minor two years his junior? His name is Genarlow Wilson, who at the time was 17 years of age and had engaged in an oral sex act with a 15 year old minor. He was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for his "crime." If Levi Johnson, the self described 18 year old "f***ing redneck who will kick your ass if you mess with me" boyfriend and baby daddy to Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah, who is under aged what does that say about the contradictions in our society regarding teen aged sex? There are different standards for white teens vs. black teens when it comes to sex? This doesn't just suggest it, it screams it. Was she 17 or 16 when the act took place. As she is 5 months pregnant and a birth date can't be confirmed only the family knows for sure. But if the sex act took place while she was under aged either at 16 or 17 years of age someone needs to tell me the difference between Genarlow Wilson and Levi Johnston. I think I already know.

But even this isnt the issue though it should be. It hasn't been brought up once in the media because of all the attention being paid to poor little Bristol and her condition. No the real issue isn't even her or abortion or Roe v. Wade. It never has been. The right to life movement uses Roe v. Wade as a rabbit hole for the media and many in the liberal blogosphere to chase when the real issue is something else: Griswold v. Connecticut.

It has always been about the real target of the religious right: contraception. They want states to have a right to outlaw the use and right to purchase birth control aids, devices and medications. THIS is real the issue. It always has been. Both the media and liberal blogosphere never seem to focus on this. Yes, they've touched on the issue in context with the religious right's culture war they want to engage in. But it is never brought up as the real focus and target. As for Bristol Palin, she is the daughter of a politician who aggressively advocates not just the outlawing of abortion even in the case of rape or incest but someone who aggressively pushes abstinence only education instead of sex education. Ms. Palin even goes further with her record as Governor of Alaska:
"Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee who revealed Monday that her 17-year old daughter is pregnant, earlier this year used her line-item veto to slash funding for a state program benefiting teen mothers in need of a place to live."
That is some real compassionate conservatism there. This clearly lays bare her thinking on this issue. The religious right has suddenly found the rapture with this pick by McCain and its no wonder. They clearly want to legalize and institutionalize punishment for pre-marital sex. They want to get back into the bedroom and act as missionary soldiers while sitting on the shoulders of their vengeful and wrathful Old Testament God. With Sarah Palin they have that and more.

Sabbatical's End

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Well, that took a while. I had not counted on the final steps toward earning my permanent teaching certificate being that intense. When I finally finished at the end of July I was so blown out I didn’t want to go anywhere near my laptop. I just wanted to take a breather. Then before I could turn around the first day of school was looming upon me. While preparing for that tropical storm Fay decided to blunder into our lives and become a major disruption. As I sit here the debris from the storm is still sitting at the end of my driveway waiting to be picked up by the city sanitation service. Now we are looking toward the possibility of two more Atlantic basin storms heading our way for more very unwelcome disruptions. My tale of course pales in contrast to the possible tragic consequences of Hurricane Gustav and we here at Truman's Conscience hopes that Gustav's track finds itself somewhere else other than inhabited coast lines.

A lot has happened during this unintended sabbatical. We have a new nominee in Barack Obama who has unlimited potential and a GOP standard bearer that represents everything the Republican party has stood for over the past 50 years. There is a lot I need to catch up so I need to get started.

Religious Right Mystified By Obama

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It should be obvious to almost anyone following the 2008 Presidential election that one Barack Obama is driving the right crazy. Especially the religious right. I love the fact that they are stumbling over themselves not to resort to their usual dogwhistle rhetoric less they be exposed as latent racist.

Now they find themselves thrashing about looking for a way to define him without defining him through the language the GOP has come to rely on for the past forty years. Their message has always relied on speech that was dogwhistle code to reassure their base they will be protected from the likes of "they" and "them" as a way to refer to people of color, different ethnic backgrounds, and homosexuals. When Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 Presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi with a hat tip to Richard Nixon's 'southern strategy' and declaring themselves as the defenders of their heritage in the so called "culture war" every single person that made up that base knew exactly what they meant. Now that dogwhistle code is falling on a changing demographics' ears and the rhetoric doesn't hold the same meaning. Instead of tones of appeal its a shout of "racist."

That brings us to James Dobson and the Christianist movement. What has Mr. Dobson upset is this appearance by Obama discussing Christianity in context with the real world and whose interpretation is debateable even among Christians:


Then there is the Christian conservative principles about homosexualty as interpreted by the religious right regarding gay marriage:

To Dobson, gay marriage is a looming catastrophe of epic proportions. He has compared the recent steps toward gay marriage to Pearl Harbor and likens the battle against it to D-Day. While Dobson maintains that he'd prefer to stay out of politics, he has said that "the attack and assault on marriage is so distressing that I ust feel like I can't remain silent."

Pontificating about the sins of same sex marriage and homosexuality in general seems to be an obsession with Mr. Dobson. In regards to the views of Sen. Obama as expressed in his 2006 appearance at the Call To Renewal Conference in Washington D.C. from the video above Mr. Dobson runs into trouble when he went after the Senator for "distorting" the bible:
"Dobson and Minnery accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply to Jesus' teachings in the New Testament.

"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said.

"... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."
So, Mr. Dobson is dismissing the Old Testament as not applicable in light of the teachings of Christ in the New Testament. That poses a major problem for the inestimableMr. Dobson and his militant religious views on homosexuality. The Old testabment with its "text and dietary codes that no longer apply" is exactly where the religious right community derive their views on homosexuality: Leviticus 18:22.

As Romano Penna, Professor of New Testament studies at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome explains:
"Jesus never speaks of homosexuality. A bare mention can perhaps be seen when, in referring to John the Baptist, he says to the crowd: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? ... a man clothed in soft raiment? ... those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses" (Mt 11:7, 8; Lk 7:25). The Greek word malakos, translated as "soft, tender", could also mean "effeminate". But in this case the allusion could only be very indirect, since the word is used about clothing and not people."
So if Christ never bothers to bring it up and Mr. Dobson's hand wringing over Sen. Obama using Old Testament teachings that are out of line with New Testament theology then his arguement with the Sen. and his distortion of the bible is mute even before it begins.

In the video above the Senator asks us "...if we exclude all the other religions in America save the Christian one, whose view of Christianity do we teach?" The problem with Mr. Dobson's attacks is they prove the Senators point no matter what comes out of his mouth. The attack itself is a perfect illustration of the Senator's point about contrarian views within the Christian community. Senator Obama has effectively countered the the religious right's attacks with his position and gives him an opening to the evangelical community and erode some of Mr. Dobson's support in the heart of his base.

Without a theological arguement all Mr. Dobson is left with is the old "culture war" rhetoric of Nixon/Reagan political speak of "they" and "them" and the racist underlinings they represent. From here until election day it is going to be very amusing as we watch the Republicans tread in waters they are not accustomed to. With Hillary all they had to do was reach back to the same old attacks and dogwhistle rhetoric. They weren't expecting this. Moving out of that old Republican speak will make them look like fish out of water. Yes, they'll still have a formidable attack machine, but the field of play is much more even now which will make for more mistakes and stumbles on their part.

For the GOP this new world doesn't look so good. With J.C. Watts now retired the Republican National Convention is going to look awfully white in the realities of a rainbow colored world. Oh, what fun.

Florida Political News & Commentary

Its been quite a week here in the Sunshine State with events ranging from flip flops on drilling positions to presidential contenders doing local fundraisers here in northeast Florida.

McCain was in Santa Barbara, CA recently defending his flip flop on offshore drilling. I'm sure having Gov. Charlie Crist in your pocket when it comes to defending your current position change is a huge asset. What I found curious is how McCain defended his position. When confronted by a participant at a fund raiser in his honor who said all Californians are leery of a policy that seems to invite environmental disaster McCain used a curious example that was interesting not for what he said but for what he left out:

"McCain told Secord he believes in a state's right to make such decisions and pointed out that Texas and Louisiana had weathered hurricanes in 2005 that did not lead to oil spills at nearby offshore facilities."

That's some selective memory there. I guess Katrina still isn't on his radar.

I see where Sen. Obama's fundraiser here in Jacksonville, FL netted over $1,000,000. Notable local and regional attendees included Wayne Hogan, Terrie Brady, Congresswoman Corrine Brown, and former Sheriff Nat Glover. Last month when I got an e-mail from the local DEC announcing that the Obama campaign has openned a local office here I knew he was serious about northeast Florida and the potential it held of him. I think it bodes well for down ticket races for the First Coast Congressional delegation candidates.

I was stunned this morning to see the Florida Times Union op-ed on Amtrak and playing it up as an important subsized program for public transportation. For years the paper has railed against the funding for it with op-ed after op-ed trying to undermine its existence. The funny thing is they piece talks like it never happened. Not only that they actually used ink that wasn't an attack on Corrine Brown. Wonders never cease in the political world of 2008.

The St. Petersburg Times' The Buzz is reporting that Mel Martinez is being considered as a potential running mate for McCain. I find that hilarious since his curent approval ratings are in the tank at 35% overall and just 48% for Republicans. Of course the lousy job he's done as the head of the RNC probably hasn't helped. I can't see Martinez being a serious candidate wtih those numbers. Not only that it looks like in 2010 when his term is up he'll get serious contention for his seat. There's a buzz going around it might be Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL, D19).

In the business sector I see where the Associated Press is reporting that the IRS has raised the write off for gas mileage 8 cents to 58.5 cents per mile. I think before its over it will have to go much higher than that.

Rep. Brown-Waite (R-FL, D5) Adopts The GOP "Brand" Of Insult To Rally Support For Offshore Drilling

One of the things that puzzles me the most is how Republican politicians always adopt the most snide language possible when asking for bi-partisan action. A case in point is Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL, D5) who this past week delivered the House Republicans' weekly radio address supporting offshore drilling in Florida coastal areas. Though its obvious she did not write the address, its easy to see why they chose her to deliver it. Ms. Brown-Waite's Congressional district, which includes Levy, Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco county, happens to be in a western coastal area of the state. What continues to amaze me is that weekly GOP radio address isn't for rank and file Florida Republican consumption, it is intended for Independents and self identified Florida Democrats. So how do the House Republicans address the opposition hoping to pull them into supporting the same position? Let Ms. Brown-Waite do the talking:

"Watching gas prices rise from $2.32 a gallon in January 2007 to $4.08 this week, I am firmly convinced that Americans today face a new hostage crisis. Instead of a 1970s style OPEC embargo, however, American families and the United States economy are being held hostage by a Democrat Congress that refuses to explore for more oil and natural gas. Sadly out of step with the wishes of the American public, the majority does not get it; two new polls this week show that a clear majority of the American people wants to explore for oil, but Democrats have so far said nothing but No, No, No."

There it is: "Democrat Congress." Yep, that sure will get the folks across the aisle to reach out, no doubt about that. Of course they are trying to goad them into support by calling them out to the voters in the state with a pejoritive poke of the stick but for all intents and purposes it is an attempt through insult. An insult I might add to the very people she is trying to convince that include rank and file Florida Democrats.

That GOP 'brand" is really something. And they still can't figure out why in 2006 they lost control of both houses of Congress.

Amtrak sets revenue and passenger rail service records

Saturday, June 21, 2008

And how many times has the GOP tried to kill Amtrak saying year after year its a money loser and a waste of time? Let me count the ways....well, maybe not. There isn't enough bandwidth to do that. The irony here is almost overwhelming. The Amtrak passenger rail service has been the red headed step child of public transportation since the demise of corporate passenger railroads. Leave it to gas at $5.00+/gallon to put the romance back in trains. And now it looks like the revenues are poring in thanks to a government that has turned its back on a comprehensive energy policy since gas lines in 1977 - 1978. Remember everyone making fun of Jimmy Carter trying to move the country to an energy policy to ween us off of foreign oil. Detroit laughed and kept making cars that got under 20 mpg and we kept buying them.

Who's laughing now?

Newsweek: Obama Leads McCain 51% to 36%

Yes, these are nice numbers. Not only that the methodology included a sampling greater than a 1,000 respondents which is a pet peeve of mine. There are too many polls whose sampling falls below 750 respondents. Now for the caution: the poll is of registered voters as opposed to likely voters. It is way too early to get excited about this poll because we still have 65 days until the Democratic convention and the GOP convention isn't until the first week in September. With 136 days until the general election we still have a long way to go. This is a good start though and Sen. Obama has an opportunity to strike now in areas of the country and put McCain on the defense. A defense he is going to have trouble financing since Obama has opted out of public financing.

Let's keep our heads about ourselves and reamain calm. Six weeks in politics is a lifetime.

Obama Press Conference In Jacksonville

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sen. Obama is standing on the South Bank with the Acosta Bridge as a backdrop answering questions today here in Jacksonville, FL. His fist question after a brief statement was about offshore oil drilling. He answered with what all the experts know to be true, supplies would not be realized for a generation that would have any marginal affect on prices. His second question was about his campaign opting out of public financing for the general election. CNN only covered it briefly and the local stations aren't covering it at all. I'll try to find some video later and post it. I'm hoping the local paper, The Florida Times Union will print a transcript. Even MSNBC is not covering the presser.

Having just found a live feed from a local news web site I was able to follow the last 15 minutes of the presser. He was asked another question about public financing, a question about NAFTA and McCains claim he was being protectionist and another question about Democrats on the hill subpoenaing witnesses about the Attorney General firings. I'll try to find a video later and post it.

Update: I found this nearly 5 minute clip via You Tube on the Senator's visit today here in Jacksonville, FL:


Update II: Democrat Alex Sink, Florida CFO joins in on the criticism of the state GOP and the McCain Campaign touting new offshore drilling rights off Florida's coast:

Alex Sink, Florida Chief Financial Officer, said Friday she is not in favor of offshore drilling because of the negative effect it would have on Florida’s $60 billion tourism industry.


“I think this is a very shortsighted approach to put our economy at risk for oil drilling along the coast when we all know that the first drop of oil wouldn’t even come for ten years,” Sink said.

You can see the video here for her remarks in full.

Florida's Offshore Drilling Ban Under Attack

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The surprise here shouldn't be over Gov. Crist's about face on his previous support of Florida's ban on offshore drilling. The surprise should be over how long it took him to do it. Crist could not be a better representative of the GOP "brand" that bases policy formation on short sighted solutions designed to fit into 24 hr. news cycles while placating their corporate benefactors. Then they drag their Democratic opposition into a distracting debate on its merits that could last for weeks thereby avoiding having to deal with the hard realities of a long term energy policy the public needs to face and consider. The problem with counting all the things wrong with this new GOP meme for offshore drilling is figuring out where to begin.

Before I get into this faux policy of letting the oil companies have their way with our pristine environment down here off the Florida coast there is one slight item everyone is forgetting while they panic over impending $5.00+/gallon gas: the gulf of Mexico acts like a catcher's mitt for those hurricane's that come off the west coast of Africa like spitballs. Do we really want to build these oil rigs with targets on them with the potential to be an environmental catastrophe that would make the Exxon Valdez look like a can of oil spilt on ground? Since the GOP "brand" doesn't permit thinking beyond a few weeks the state MSM might just want to bring this up. Remember Katrina? A little reminder might be in order:

"NEW YORK (September 15, 2005) -- Nearly six million gallons of oil pouring out of seven pipelines and coastal storage tanks ruptured by Hurricane Katrina amount to one of the largest U.S. oil spills in history. Yet despite this disaster-within-a-disaster, lawmakers in Washington are saying we should open up vast new areas of our nation's shoreline to more coastal oil drilling, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

"These spills should be a clear reminder of the inevitable risks that come with coastal drilling, especially in areas prone to hurricanes and tropical storms," said Lisa Speer, senior policy analyst at the NaturalResources Defense Council and an expert on marine environments. "Katrina is a giant warning sign for anyone thinking about coastal oil production in their area."

Now about the drilling itself and the supposed panacea it offers us as far as the current GOP meme informs us. The problem with this is those stubborn facts keep getting in the way of their so called new policy for allowing the oil companies to drill until their hearts content wherever and whenever. First let's take a look at demand:


"The world economy depends upon the flow of oil, not the oil that remains in the ground. The fact is, more than 50 nations are now past their peak in oil production: Mexico, Norway, UK, USA, Russia, perhaps even Saudi Arabia to name a few. If you use ExxonMobil's estimate for the decline rate from these existing wells (-6%), then from now until 2017, we need to find and develop 37 million barrels per day of additional crude production just to stay even with what we consume today. That assumes no growth in demand for oil. That is the equivalent of finding FOUR Saudi Arabias. Does anyone think we have overlooked resources of that size and quality?"

And then there is production capacity:

"World oil production has been flat for three years. America's oil refineries are configured to refine light sweet crude and are currently operating at 88% capacity and paying a premium for this short supply. There is no point for the Middle East, the only region that may have spare capacity, to increase production of heavy sour crudes until new refineries are built or existing refineries have been modified.

"Three fourths of the world's oil and gas wells have already been drilled in North America. Our continent is so heavily explored that it looks like swiss cheese. Eighty percent of the oil available on the Outer Continental Shelf is already open to leasing and drilling. Will opening the remaining 20 percent make any difference when it takes 5-10 years to bring any new oil discoveries to market?

Then there is the reality of what the oil companies aren't doing with the wide open leases they already have to drill with: drilling permits issued between 1999 and 2007 for the development of public lands increased in number by more than 361%. And those gas prices have dropped steadily since they have had the capacity to do all that drilling since, right? The question to ask now is just what the hell is the oil companies doing with all those leases that aren't being used? They want to hold them as reserves for assets on the books while they drive up fuel prices. Real patriots these people.
Then there is that little matter of Iraq. Since we all know it was, has been, and still a case of "how did our oil get in your ground" attitude let's consider the colonial style 'Production Sharing Agreements' the oil companies are lining up to make with Iraq:

"The New York Times reports today that the Iraqi government will soon announce the award of no-bid oil service contracts with a coalition of western oil companies, marking the first legal agreement between big oil and the post-Saddam Iraqi government...."

"...[The] companies and the Bush Administration for years pushed the Iraqis to accept a so-called Hydrocarbon Law that would permit Production Sharing Agreements for the oil companies. That was among the so-called "benchmarks" that Bush enumerated at the outset of the "surge" in early 2006."

And what is Congress, to be more exact the U.S. Senate, doing to help us rid ourselves of this oil dependency?

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Tuesday blocked debate of a bill to offer about $17.7 billion in tax incentives for consumers to build renewable energy sources like windmills and solar arrays, and buy plug-in cars that run on electricity rather than gasoline.

The Energy Independence and Tax Relief Act of 2008 would have extended a tax credit to build windmills by one year through December 31, 2009, and extend for three years similar credits for renewable energy sources like biomass, geothermal, landfill gas and trash combustion."

Another reason why elections matter. Since Charlie Crist and his posse, Rubio and Pruitt, have tax cut trigger fingers with encouragement to go out and buy consumer goods without any long term thinking that only caters to the corporate bottom line for quarterly profits how about a different angle. Offer the auto makers tax breaks to for every car introduced into the Florida market that is either a hybrid, electric powered, or uses alternative fuels. Offer tax cuts to Floridians to trade in their hydrocarbon gas guzzler for one of these alternative fuel cars. It will make our environment cleaner, reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and ween our economy off the whims of petroleum costs. The problem with this is it takes long term thinking. Something Crist, Rubio and Pruitt are incapable of doing. That GOP "brand" is indelible like a tattoo. Its with you for life.

Ah, Once More Into The Breech Dear Friends!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

No better way to return from teacher certification purgatory than to quote Shakespeare I always say. Wow. It seems a lot has happened since I took a little more time than I thought I would need to finish my permanent certification work. All I have to do now is wait to see if it is acceptable for official certification within a week or two.

With 68 days until the Democratic National Convention and 139 days until the election I can't believe how close we are to realizing a new direction for our country and a new hope being realized. This election feels different. Its as if those fleeting moments when Robert F. Kennedy was running for President in early 1968 are back with all the promise and potential. The buzz feels indescribable. There is a visceral quality to this election I've not felt before. I can almost envision Sen. Obama standing with his hand on the bible getting ready to take the oath of office. I keep thinking of that vision as I look forward to it replacing the profaneness of the last two. For someone like me who's political sensibilities have been shaken to the core over these past 7 1/2 years its all I've got left to hold on to.

Why Clinton Lost

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Yeah, I know I'm supposed to be out a few more days but Hunter at Daily Kos forced me to pop in and do ths drive by post and contribute to the "why Clinton lost" noise filtering through the liberal blogosphere this morning.

Daily Kos is spending the day with their contributors penning post mortems on the Clinton campaign. If Hunters piece is any indication of what the Daily Kos regulars are in for (that includes me) it will be a long day for them. This isn't rocket science. His piece was 2,703 words long. He mentions the word "Iraq" twice (once as a side issue not related to his arguement) and the word "war" once, again not related to his arguement. Hillary lost because of her war vote. Period. That vote for authorization of the war and the subsequent dance around the issue she did made my support for her prohibitave. Matt Yglesias made the same point this morning about the New York times piece on the same issue of why Hillary lost. They didn't even mention it once.

Wow. What a monumential waste of bandwidth and ink. To paraphrase a Clinton '92 campaign slogan, "It was the war, stupid." Sheesh. How hard is that to figure out.

I'll Be Out For A Few Days

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I've already been out for a couple of days working on my teacher certification and finishing up school which ended for the students on Thursday. Looks like I'll be out for a few more at least until mid-week to late in the week to finish up my certification process. Just a note about the election campaign so far: I like Obama in Florida as Quinnipac had the race within the the margin of error - McCain 48% to Obama's 44%. Also I'm looking for Faye Armitage to take out John Mica in the 7th.

As I sign of for a few days I'm watching the Clinton endorsement receive unprecedented press coverage. As the MSM follows these campaigns its not hard to figure out where the energy and the excitement lay: the Obama campaign. Unless McCain can rev up his campaign's energy level with a running mate he's going to have problems keeping up with Obama's. The only problem with that is a young, energetic running mate will make him look even older if possible.

Anyway, back in a few days and we will start taking a look at the races in the First Coast congressional districts and start breaking down the numbers for each. This historic campaign has an excitement level that is contagious. Let's enjoy it while we can.

Cheney Apologizes For W. Virginia Incest Joke (What A Surprise)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ok. Cheney going off with an off-color joke about incest in West Virginia isn't really news. I mean after all this is the guy who shot someone in the face on one of those fake hunting trips where you step out of the comfort of your mini-bared SUV and pop off a few rounds in a private hunting preserve where the game is "conditioned" for partially liquored up blowhards. I just love the "values" party, don't you? Anyway, Cheney's remark isn't what should be news. The news should be West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin's (D) indignant response:
"I truly cannot believe that any vice president of the United States, regardless of their political affiliation, would make such a derogatory statement about my state or any state for that matter," Manchin said in a statement. "West Virginia is home to some of the most patriotic people in the nation and our sons and daughters have answered the call to duty every time a president has needed their service. They deserve better from the vice president, and so I would simply ask for his apology."
Do tell Governor. Your indignation is duly noted, as it should be. I just want to make sure I understand the good Democratic Gov. Manchin of the Mountain State which serves as the buckle of the bible belt. It seems their population has bought in to the GOP frame for Democratic Presidential candidates who supposedly represent atheist gays who want to take your guns away.

First off, as the very proud son of a late WWII, Korean, and Vietnam veteran and brother of a Desert Shield veteran I'm bothered by someone's service to their country getting special claim to the recognition of rights and respect. It is an insult to those that fought in defense of our country making sure everyone gets that same claim and recognition. Let's forget for a moment his remark seemingly endorsing that very fact as he evoked the state's "sons and daughters" answering the call to serve in the military which gives them that special status. But let's forget all of that for the moment. If what you evoked in the name of all those "sons and daughters" stands, then what about the gays and lesbians in our country that have answered that same call. In 33 states it is still legal to fire someone over their sexual orientation, even with a chest full of medals from their military service.

This is more than annoying and irritating, it buys into the GOP "values" frame about lesbians and gays being somewhat less than human, unless of course you happen to be the daughter of the Vice President of the United States. So, Gov. Joe Manchin, this is a plea to stop buying into that frame. My father and my brother fought to make sure we all have the same respect, recognition and rights without special exceptions.

Florida Legislature Turning Its Back On Local Schools

Monday, June 02, 2008

One of the clarion calls of candidate and now Gov. Charlie "I think I might be a VP candidate" Crist was a statewide deep property tax cut to be enacted at the outset of his adminstration. Without stopping to catch his breath he also proclaimed and promised this would not affect our state educational system. And now for the shocker - he lied.

One of my pet peeves when it comes to the GOP has always been what they proclaim their "brand" stands for: lower taxes and smaller governement. Let me assure you as the Florida legislature just proved, there is no such thing as a tax cut. Whatever funding has been cut at the highest federal level, the state will take up the slack. Whatever funding is cut at the state level, the local municipalities will take up the slack. If that funding is cut off at the city level, then the service is paid for privately. Then the so-called tax cut becomes a loss of funds on a personal level and much more expensive since the cost of the service was carried over the sprectrum of the population it served at a much cheaper rate individually. That service could range form any variety of services that includes school lunches for the poor to less police presence on the street. Some "tax cut."

Right now I'm a teacher sitting in my classroom finishing up my day and looking at my walls. I'm lucky to have two world maps that proclaim the Soviet Union is still with us. In my school that has over 200 teachers we have 35 LCD projectors between us. I could sit here and go on and on but I think I've made my point. As the article highlighted, for the thrid time here in this post, stipulates, local governments are now going to have to shoulder a heavier tax burdon. Let's guess where that revenue is going to come from. Don't hurt yourself trying to figure it out, I'll give you a hand. Local property taxes. You know, as opposed to the ones Gov. Charlie helped legislate tax cuts for on a state level.

I am going to continue my campaign to destroy the myth of this GOP "brand." The "brand" that defines the "values" party. You know, the "values" party that wants to privitize the entire healthcare industry and Social Security. The "values" party that wants your life to have a price on it regarding your ability to pay for healthcare. You can't afford it? Welcome to the Darwinian universe where only the fittest survive. The "values" party that wants to prevent all abortions but cut funding for SCHIP (State Childrens Health Insurance Program). I'll be posting more about this in the coming days and weeks while I figure out a way to pay for my school supplies next year on my teacher salary.

Does Obama’s V.P. Short List Now Include Rep. Robert Wexler?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Adam Smith over at St. Petersburg Times’ “The Buzz” seems to think it might be possible. The eleven-year Congressman out of Florida’s 19th congressional district is definitely what one would consider a firebrand. He would fit perfectly into the running mate’s traditional role of a pit bull on the stump and he’s wildly popular in his district.

When I saw Smith’s article I took a closer look at Wexler and his district. In 2004 and 2006 he ran unopposed which is no surprise in a district with a PVI of D+21. That would be inline with the last time he had an opponent in 2002 when he popped 72% of the vote. In 2004 Bush only managed 34% of the popular vote there with an ethnic demographic of 87% white, 13% Hispanic, 6% Black, and 2% Asian. He is most known for a controversial appearance on Comedy Central’s Steven Colbert Show where he went along with a comedy routine pretending to be an admitted cocaine user who used the services of prostitutes. When several members of the MSM did not understand that Mr. Colbert’s show was a fake news program based on comedic suppositions, Colbert had to make an appearance out of character on the program and remind them Wexler was playing along with the joke.

At 47, he is younger than Sen. Obama and would fit nicely in his circle of advisors as a sitting member with the House Judiciary Committee since the Presidential candidate has expressed a desire to review all of Bush’s Executive Orders for constitutionality. Along with the fact he came out for Obama early he would come to the ticket without a national power base to challenge the equilibrium of Obama’s and bring with him his bona fides as an active Jew involved in efforts to increase closer American-Israeli relations.

I actually can’t see any downsides of Wexler upon initial analysis with the exception of the Colbert appearance, which seems minimal and a lack of name recognition. Add to the fact he is from Florida the geographical balance wouldn’t hurt even though I believe that myth has been laid to rest for sometime now. Given some time to think about it I might think he wouldn’t be a bad choice. Not a bad choice at all.

RBC Michigan Outcome Was Wrong

I was just over at MyDD reading Jerome Armstrong’s post mortem on the RBC votes yesterday. There can be no doubt, despite the most extreme of Hillary’s followers’ twisted sense of what is “fair,” the decision regarding the seating of our slate of delegates was the correct one. Rules are rules and without them you can’t function as an entity.

I am still somewhat annoyed with Mr. Armstrong and the major contingent of the prominent members of the liberal blogosphere basically ignoring the skullduggery of the state GOP’s hand at putting the FDP and the state legislature’s Democratic minority in our current situation. Despite that annoyance though, I am in full agreement with his assessment of Michigan and the RBC’s resolution. It was wrong.

Mr. Armstrong crystallized the issue of Michigan’s wrong headed resolution with this deft explanation after noting the committee’s adoption of the Michigan Democratic Party’s delegate apportionment solution of 69 (for Clinton) & 59 (for Obama):
“In giving Clinton more delegates than Obama, the RBC does so on the basis of their being a vote in MI that Clinton won, yet by not honoring the amount of votes she got, they make not actual votes, but some other measurement the basis upon which to divide delegates. What measure would that be? Polling? The disenfranchised that didn't vote? Irrevocable harm? It's a disastrous precedent. Either it counts or it doesn't, where's the basis in the rules for this decision! And if its not rules, then what is it? If the actual "votes" factor into the decision, but are not at the top of the list, then what kind of democracy does this ruling represent?”
I wholeheartedly agree here. This pretzel logic, despite the attempt at pragmatism, was a sharp departure from the basis of Florida’s resolution. Though the circumstances of both states differ the rules invoked should have been the same for both resulting in Clinton being awarded 73 delegates with the rest going to uncommitted with all at half value. The uncommitted slate of delegates would represent the will of the voters who obviously did not want to commit to Clinton. One could speculate here that most of the uncommitted would be for Sen. Obama by the time of the roll call vote in Denver.

Side note: As noted in my previous post from yesterday I was fairly angry yesterday with the Clinton campaign. But later on Georgia10 at Daily Kos calmed me after I read his entry on the probable reason for the Clinton campaign’s public challenge to the RBC.

DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee Meeting

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I'm watching the live coverage of the DNC rules and bylaws committee which has just introduced motions to seat both Florida & Michigan at half votes each with both passing. The motion for Florida passed unanomously while the motion for Michigan passed with 8 votes against. The Hillary protesters were particularly loud and rude. What a surprise. Harold Ickes, who acted like a total ass, let it be known that Hillary will take this all the way to the credentials committee making sure her campaign is as divisive as possible.

This just in: the party at GOP Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio's house with Ken Pruitt, GOP State Senate President co-hosting, was in full swing with a drinking game of vodka shots every time the committee was disrupted by protesters. I understand that if Hillary chose to challenge all of this at the credentials committee Rubio and Pruitt had to each down a pitcher of beer to see who would be left standing after five laps around the pool. The winnner got the golden donkey that was struck for the occasion.

This turned out to be more wildly successful at disrupting the DNC political process than they both could have imagined. And the ramifications of what they wrought have not been played out yet. The GOP in this state is beneath contempt.

Update: this is what Hillary's scorched earth campaign is producing:


We interrupt this update - This just in update: Rubio and Pruitt could not make it to the pool. They both passed out. The party members left standing and sober enough voted unanimously to send the golden donkey to McCain's campaign HQ in Arizona.

Update (continued): The Clinton brand at this point is dead to me. Right now I'm thinking of Godfather II. (Cut to me giving the Clinton campaign the Michael Corleone kiss):


The Clinton brand has broken my heart. They broke my heart.

Charlie Crist To Remake State Supreme Court?

I've been meaning to comment on a post by Robert of Interstate4Jamming2 where he sounded the alarm on Tuesday about Gov. Charlie Crist being in a unique position to remake the state's highest court with ramifications that will reverberate throughout Florida for years to come. As he reminds us there is more at stake here than just the fact he can reshape the court:
"Not only will Crist be appointing a majority of the seven justices on the high court, he will have by then a majority of the nine-member Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission in his pocket. He has already appointed three JNC members since entering office, and three others have terms which will end this summer."
Though, as Robert points out, Crist's conservative bona fides aren't as sharply defined as his predecessor there is still enough concern to give state residents a reason to think hard about what might be. The most striking thing about Crist being in this position is how this will affect Floridians and the state court system. We must remember what the conservative view of "tort reform" encompasses: the restriction of access for the general public to legal redress through the state court system thereby sheilding state corporate interests beholden to the GOP from accountability.

This issue needs to be watched closely as the court descisions that would be handed down from these Crist appointee's has the potential to afftect our daily lives for years to come.

Truman's Conscience Joins The Act Blue Community

I'm very happy to announce the addition of Truman's Conscience to the Act Blue community. In the left sidebar you will see that I've added their gateway link for campaign contributions to our First Coast Congressional Candidates for 2008. Right now all indicators suggest we may be on the verge of an historic watershed election. The Democratic Party is poised to make unprecedented gains across the county and it is critical we give all the support we can in order to make this effort a reality. And right now what better way to offer that support than through a contribution to our First Coast candidates via ActBlue.

There has never been a time when the needs of northeast Florida have received so little attention from its its elected representatives. That is why it is imperative we find Democrats willing to serve all the people and not just those with privileged tax breaks and corporate portfolios. We need more Democrats like Corrine Brown, district 3, who continues to work hard serving her constituents as only she can.

There is not enough bandwidth to list all the issues that First Coast voters need to have addressed now. Cliff Sterns, John Mica, and Ander Crenshaw have had other priorities serving the special interests they are beholden to at the expense of the constituencies they serve. Out of all those issues there are three that need immediate attention that can only be addressed by Democrats that have our voter's best interest at heart: (1) a viable energy policy to counter the spiraling and out of control fuel costs that hinder continued growth and expansion of the First Coast communities; (2) a practical and comprehensive healthcare policy that covers all our First Coast residents that is affordable and not subject to pre-conditions; and finally (3) a policy that addresses our veterans' critical needs in post service care and to bring the current GI bill into the 21st century.
There are three First Coast Congressional candidates that need your help and support right now:
Please give them the help and support they need today. Head over to their web sites and find out how they are willing to give the First Coast community the public service we deserve.

Truman's Conscience will be working hard following these great candidates and doing all it can to aid them in their endeavor. Come and join us and help take our country back from the special interests and corporate lobbyists that serve only themselves at First Coast community expense.