19 January 2006

The New Laura Bush attacks Hillary Clinton

First Lady Laura Bush decided to partake in bare-knuckled politix by attacking her predecessor on Wednesday. The assault by Mrs. Bush was unprovoked and was very out of character for the First Lady who typically shows a very classy demeanor.

Laura Bush has spent the past five years serving as a polite and respectful First Lady. But since the beginning of 2006, she has changed. She is now acting as a partisan politician, and as we witnessed yesterday, she is engaging in Swift Boat-style attacks against her political opponents. According to most recent polls, Bush enjoys high approval by most Americans. It will be interesting to see how the country feels about the new Laura Bush.

Earlier this week, Laura Bush endorsed the idea of a woman as President of United States, but only if that woman is a Republican. Then yesterday, Mrs. Bush attacked Hillary Clinton's speech from a Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. event, calling Clinton's comments "ridiculous."

On Monday, Clinton was speaking to an African American crowd in Harlem when she said that the Republicans run the Congress like a "plantation." The former First Lady used the imagery to describe the way that the GOP in Congress exludes minorities from decisions and suppress free speech. Her words were almost identical to those used by Newt Gingrich in 1994, when the future Speaker of the House said he was leading a "slave rebellion" against the Democrats who "run the plantation."

This appears to be a non-story except for the fact that America is witnessing a transformation of Laura Bush. Most Americans have supported the dignified, classy First Lady who has stood by her man during a tough first term. What will America think of the new First Lady now that she is becoming a partisan attack-dog? Only time will tell.

Also posted at FLA Politics.

12 January 2006

St. Pete Times mischaracterizes anti-gay amendment

Today, Adam Smith (email) of the St. Petersburg Times reported that that Republican Party of Florida has contributed $150,000 to the controversial anti-gay amendment [PDF - 95 KB] sponsored by the group, Florida4Marriage.org. The Times' Smith, along with Jason Garcia (email) of the right-leaning Orlando Sentinel, has simply regurgitated the GOP's talking points which state the amendment only bans gay marriage. Unfortunately for the credibility of these two papers, this characterization is incorrect.

Ironically, only the conservative Tampa Tribune accurately describes the amendment by labeling it the "Antigay Measure," but even this depiction omits the issue of domestic partnerships for unmarried heterosexual couples which would be banned under the proposed law.

While the organization Florida4Marriage.org states that their amendment is intended to only ban gay marriage, it goes a lot further than just attacking same-sex nuptials. In addition to marriage, the amendment would also ban civil unions between same-sex couples and domestic partnerships between hetero- and homosexual couples. Sadly, Florida4Marriage.org and the Republican Party refuse to mention the total scope of this constitutional amendment and are purposely misleading the voters of Florida.

If this amendment were to pass, many domestic partnerships granted through various counties and cities around the state would likely be nullified. And while domestic partnerships offered by private organizations, such as Bank of America, Chevron Texaco Corp., and Disney Worldwide Services Inc., will probably continue, they would likely be unenforceable through civil actions in state courts, essentially leaving individuals who encounter problems with their benefits without any legal remedy. (It would be interesting to see if this violates the constitutional right of access to the courts as guaranteed under Art. I, Sec. 21 of the Florida Constitution.)

The language of the constitutional amendment reads as follows:

"Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized." (emphasis added)

This language broadens the amendment to cover more than just marriage. Florida4Marriage.org says that it doesn't, but this is obviously a lie. While recent polls show a majority of Floridians oppose gay marriage, they also show that a majority supports equal rights for gay couples.

Florida4Marriage.org has obviously seen these polls, so they are only telling half of the story. Let's hope that in the future, the news media tells the rest.

10 January 2006

Is the McInvale defection bad news for Democrats?

As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, state Representative Sheri McInvale (D-Orlando) is expected to announce today that she is switching her voter registration from Democratic to Republican. According to the right-leaning Orlando newspaper, this should be seen as a blow to Florida Democrats, who only hold 36 out of 120 seats in the Florida House of Representatives. The McInvale switch would bring the minority party to 35, but one has to ask: Is this really bad news for Florida Democrats?

McInvale, who represents House District 36, has angered many Democrats in the Orlando area for her willingness to compromise what they see as Democratic values in a Legislature that is overwhelmingly controlled by extremely right-wing Republicans. While McInvale has been able to gain for herself the perks of being an elected official in Tallahassee (she is currently a Democratic vice chair of a House committee), she is often accused of forgetting the principles of those voters who sent her to the capital city.

The defection of McInvale may actually be good for Florida Democrats. The Party must start putting its members on notice that while it is fine to be independent, it is another thing to continuously stab your party in the back. Florida Democrats have forgotten this in the past. (The current leader of the House Democrats is state Representative Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale), whose rise to power followed his betrayal of the Florida Democratic Party and the endorsement of Jeb Bush for governor.) The removal of McInvale may actually signal that Florida Democrats are finally growing some backbone and abandoning their frat boy Yes sir, may I have another? attitudes.

McInvale's decision is not motivated by principle. Like most Florida politicians, McInvale is concerned with her own welfare, and it has been apparent for some time that her reelection in 2006 was less than assured. After facing opponents in the last two elections who had joined the races late, McInvale has been running against a young and energetic Democrat for months. Scott Randolph has been a candidate since October and has already raised $20,000 compared to McInvale's $30,000. McInvale has heard the footsteps, and her defection is simply the realization that the end is near. McInvale's decision should not be seen as a courageous act of principle. As I said before, self-preservation is her primary motivator.

By switching to the Republican Party, McInvale is likely ending her career as a politician. Due to reapportionment, the McInvale district is heavily lopsided, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans by a margin of 47 to 29 percent [PDF - 213 KB]. Republican voters literally have no say in choosing their state representative in District 36, and odds are that if McInvale switches her party registration, she is essentially writing her own political obituary.

20 November 2005

Leon Democrat attacks Party's founder

Today, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that a leader of the Leon County Democratic Party is looking to impose her extreme views on other members of the party in the name of political correctness. Acting party chair, Monica O'Neill, who was never elected to the position by Leon County Democrats, is attempting to force her beliefs on the party by denouncing the memory of Andrew Jackson, the former president, first military governor of Florida, and founder of the modern Democratic Party.

While Thomas Jefferson is commonly referred to as the founder of the Democratic Party, as well as the nation, no American in history has contributed more to the values of the modern Democratic Party than former President Andrew Jackson. Jefferson's Democratic Party, which ironically was known as the "Republican Party," was founded in 1792 and was the opposition to the soon-to-be failed Federalist Party. The Democratic Party, however, truly found its stride when a faction of the party emerged in 1828 with the election of Andrew Jackson as the seventh President of the United States.

Jackson's Democratic Party sought to establish a "party of the people," stating that the president should hold a national mandate from the voters. Jackson's populist message became the foundation for such leading progressives as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Huey Long, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton.

Like most early Americans, Jackson has blemishes on his record. His aggressive miliary action against Native Americans, especially the Seminoles, has been judged harshly by history, but in hindsight, it was Jackson's leadership during the First Seminole War that allowed for Florida to join the Union.

Prior to the Florida engagement, Jackson had recruited free black men to serve alongside his white soldiers against the British during the War of 1812. The Battle of New Orleans in 1815 was historic, because the American forces under the command of Jackson were comprised of white and black soldiers, as well as some Native Americans. Such diversity in the U.S. military was unprecedented at the time.

Just as President George W. Bush is attemting to rewrite history in regards to the Iraq War, the unelected chair of the Leon County Democratic Party, Monica O'Neill, is now attempting to rewrite the history of the national Democratic Party. Democrats and those who respect their Party's grand history must stop her.

Today, extremists in the Democratic Party aim their hostility toward great men like Jefferson and Jackson. But who is next? Will extremists in the party go after Presidents Kennedy and Clinton or Dr. Martin Luther King, because of the perception by some that they degraded women? Will anti-war extremists attack Wilson and FDR because they were aggressive wartime presidents.? Will human rights activists attack the memory of Harry Truman because he oversaw the destruction in Japan caused by two nuclear bombs?

O'Neill's attacks on the founders of the Democratic Party are ridiculous and point out the party's fundamental problem, a lack of leadership. Florida Democrats should be focused on the future, not dwelling on the past. Additionally, Ms. O'Neill should not take it upon herself to serve as an apologist for the Democratic Party, when the party has done so much to make America the greatest country in the world.

Fortunately, Ms. O'Neill's interim period is quickly coming to an end. Let's hope that her successor concentrates his efforts on the positive instead of blaming Democrats for the country's shortcomings. Leon Democrats deserve a better leader than Monica O'Neill. Let's hope they get one.

Also published at Florida Politics and Daily Kos.

24 October 2005

The fight for fair elections is now

The bipartisan effort to create a fair process for drawing congressional and legislative districts in Florida has hit a bump in the road. Politicians in Tallahassee are pulling out all the stops to maintain their stranglehold on power in Florida. Opponents of fair districts have run to court, filing motions to prevent voters from deciding this issue next fall. And partisan members of the Florida Legislature are already using our tax dollars for their own political agendas. The Committee for Fair Elections has been successfully collecting signatures from Florida voters in order to place this issue on the ballot next year, but they still may fall short with the electorate. If the proponents of fair districts don't form a politically strong argument for this issue soon, they will lose this fight before it even begins.

The redistricting issue is a complex one. While readers of political blogs are familiar with the flawed process in Florida, most voters are not. Fair election advocates have failed to create a strong argument for their position, including preemptive strikes against their likely opponents. Now that the enemies of democracy in Florida have reared their ugly heads, the Committee for Fair Elections must not wait any longer. They must act now.

First, supporters of the amendments need to stop talking about redistricting or reapportionment. Talk about fair elections.

Voters don't know what the terms redistricting or reapportionment mean. This issue is about fair elections. The Committee for Fair Elections needs to circulate a memo instructing all supporters to refer to these initiatives as the Fair Elections Amendments, not the Redistricting Amendments. Voters will understand this.

Second, the Committee for Fair Elections must define its opponents.

A number of Congressmen and state legislators have joined forces to defeat the Fair Elections Amendments. The Committee should make them the issue. Voters must understand these politicians' motivations.

All but one of the opponents of the Fair Elections Amendments are Republican. Florida Democrats hold a registration advantage over Republicans, but the GOP holds just under two-thirds of the state senate, more than two-thirds of the Florida House, and nearly three-quarters of the Florida Congressional delegation. Of course, Republicans would like us to believe that this is because the voters agree with them on issues like high deficit spending, political corruption, and government intrusion in end-of-life decisions, but those who are honest will admit that the system is rigged. These Republican politicians only oppose the Fair Elections Amendments in order to preserve their own political power.

The only Democrat to officially oppose the Fair Elections Amendments, Senator Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee), represents a district where 65.04% of the voters are Democrats. Senator Lawson has a reason to oppose the amendments - his own self-preservation. Senator Lawson has put his own interests over those of the citizens of Florida, and proponents of fair elections should point out his true motivation.

Supporters of the Fair Elections Amendments have done an exceptional job in collecting signatures in order to place the issue on the ballot next fall. Unfortunately they have failed to create a coherent message for why voters should agree with them. The winner of this issue next November will likely be the one who successfully defines the issue. For the sake of Florida's future, let's hope that the Committee for Fair Elections gets moving soon.

23 October 2005

I'm back ... sort of

I've been away from the blogging scene for awhile. I frankly didn't see the need to simply report the news and duplicate the efforts of other good blogs like Florida Politics and Florida News.

I intend to post from time to time, but not on a regular basis - just when important issues arise. This blog will feature more editorial-type pieces instead of a listing of regular news events.

Welcome back and thanx for visiting!

15 September 2005

Live Blogging: Presidential Address

For live blogging of the president's address to the nation, go to: http://americanpolitix.blogspot.com/2005/09/live-blogging-presidential-address.html.