Friday, July 30, 2004

It was odd walking into The Gym, a sports bar in downtown Lakeland, last night. Instead of the big screens in the corner showing one of the several baseball games that were available, they were on C-SPAN and the Democratic National Convention for John Kerry's acceptance speech. The Gym was the site for one of the "Kerry House Parties" held across the country to watch the event, one of three in Polk County alone! It was a good crowd, with over 40 people cheering along with the delegates and guests in Boston...and the REALLY GREAT THING is that the group was not just the same old Democratic activists you see at the same old events every month! Many of the people were young newbies, excited about the prospects, and the site gave me REAL HOPE for our prospects this fall!

I spoke with the person who hosted a similar event at the All Star Grill in Winter Haven, and she said there was a similar scene among the 30+ in attendance. Many of those were also people who have not been to previous political events, and another like scene was reported by congressional candidate Jeff Siemer when he was as yet another Kerry event.

And while I'm talking politics today, let me note that I'm burning up about Mississippi Senator Trent Lott's comment the other day at the Neshoba County Fair near Philadelphia, MS. It's one thing to call John Kerry a liberal --- even accurate, when you really consider the true defination of the word --- but to call him a "French-speaking socialist..." is truly close to slander. I thought Lott had learned from the last time he stuck his foot in his mouth...and lost his Senate leadership position as a result.

Monday, July 26, 2004

First, it's great to be back online...albeit using my backup computer.  IT was giving me problems until a couple of days ago.  Needless to say, I'll be a happy man when Gateway is done working on my main machine!

A few notes about the Democratic National Convention, which started today in Boston:

1)  Former president Bill Clinton proved again why he is such a great communicator.  He certainly knows how to work an audience.  His 25 minute speech was really wonderful.  Clinton hit on all the right points, not afraid to even point out his own efforts to skip service in Vietnam to show John Kerry's willingness to serve.  Hillary could learn from her husband...she was good, but by no means at his level. 

2)  Was good to hear from Al Gore as well.  The former VP seemed really passioniate in his remarks to the convention.  Would really like to see him return to public service at some point.

3)  Noted that Ben Affleck spoke to the Florida delegation at their breakfast meeting Monday.  Wonder if anyone bothered asking him any questions about J-Lo?

4)  If Kerry is truly smart --- and I believe he is --- there will be a place in his administration for former four star general and NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark.  Saw General Clark on "Hardball" Monday, and he handled host Chris Matthews very well...and that's saying a lot.  At times Matthews can be really boorish, always insisting on getting the final word.  But Clark didn't give an inch, making sure his points were brought to the front even as Matthews tried to steer the conversation elsewhere.  With his three decades-plus of military experience, including his additional responsibilities as a diplomat in dealing with our allies worldwide, it would be a serious mistake not to consider him for a key position...Secretary of Defense, for instance?

5)  Looking forward to hearing from Howard Dean, who is among Tuesday's featured speakers.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Sorry I haven't been active recently here.  My computer has gone on the fritz, and is currently at Gateway in Dallas for repair.  I'm currently using an old IBM Aptiva as my backup in the uses Windows 95!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

You'd better watch what you say, even to your backers. It just may backfire on you!

It seems as though 12th District Republican incumbant Congressman Adam Putnam sent a fundraising letter to his moneyed friends recently. It said that the ghost of Howard Dean was coming after him! Actually, the letter referred to his main Democratic rival, Lakeland software salesman Jeffrey Siemer...who had been active supporting Dean's presidential bid and has said that the former Vermont governor's campaign was a catalyst for his own decision to seek the congressional seat. Putnam was asking supporters to pony up even more money for the campaign, even though he has approximately 95 times Siemer's backroll!

The story was picked up by the St. Petersburg Times, which ran it in it's "Political Junkie" column last Thursday. From there it was one of the featured items on the blog for Dean's organization, Democracy For America, over the weekend. Since then, his campaign manager has noted that Siemer has received several hundred dollars in donations from across the country, and even from an expatriot living in Japan! Before now, Siemer had been just another local congressional candidate facing uphill odds against a heavily favoured incumbant. Hey, maybe Putnam --- known as "Red" by President Bush --- should send out more of these letters!

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Nice to have a computer that works normally a couple of ideas running through my idle mind on a Saturday afternoon...

---I watched the Kerry/Edwards rally in St. Pete on Bay News 9 the other evening. Glad I did, as over 10,000 showed up but only around 2,000 actually got into the Coliseum before the Fire Marshall said no more. A couple of local fellow Democratic activists made the trip and were among the crowd outside for hours, having to hear the speeches on speakers before the Two Johns Team came outside to acknowledge the huge gathering. Edwards is such a magnificant speaker, and it's to Kerry's credit that he wasn't afraid to pick a running mate who will likely often outshine him as a public speaker. You can also tell it rubs off on the soon-to-be Democratic presidential nominee. Can't wait to see Edwards and Cheney debate this fall!

---Read this morning where the hosts of the "Monsters of the Morning" radio show, which is based in Orlando but also airs in Jacksonville and Tampa/St. Petersburg, are having to go through "sensitivity training" next week per mandate by employer Clear Channel Communications after complaints regarding the some of the racial slurs used on their show. The "Monsters", a comedy team which has built a midday following in Orlando before CCC switched them to morning drive and expanded their audience statewide after "Bubba The Love Sponge" Clem was sacked for indecency complaints resulting in fines from the FCC, changed their tone from sexual based humor (or attempts at it) to racial based, as the FCC seems to be only concerned about offensive references to bodily or sexual functions. Clear Channel only acted after receiving complaings from the St. Petersburg City Commission and Pinellas County NAACP Chapter.

It really wasn't that long ago that radio hosts could do good humor without relying to tasteless crap such as these folks along with Howard Stern and their ilk put out.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Polk County is an interesting place...we all want better roads, better schools, controlled growth...we just don't want to pay more for it, or at least want someone else to foot the bill.

Not really much different from anywhere else, truth be known.

The Polk County Commission paid University of South Florida political science professor Susan McManus $44,000 to conduct a survey of 800 residents from throughout the county to determine what issues and services were most important.

When asked about quality of life, 44 percent said it was the same as five years ago, 30 percent said better, and 12 percent said it was worse.

And the most important issues: Top of the list was growth/new development, followed by public schools/education and traffic/public education (most of these folks must have been driving on I-4 in Polk recently, especially around U.S. 98 in Lakeland!)

Here's an interesting note: When asked what the county spends too much on, 61 percent said they didn't know. Forty-two percent gave the same answer when asked what the county spends too little on.

This information appeared in an article which appeared in Monday's Lakeland Ledger.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Have you been watching Jeopardy lately? If you haven't, now may be a good time to check it out.

Not only is it the show's 20th anniversary (are they counting the original daytime version with Art Fleming on NBC as well?), but contestant Ken Jennings, a software engineer from Utah, is really raking in the dough! The show changed it's rules this season, doing away with the five-game limit for contestants and allowing them to continue playing until they are defeated. Jennings (as of the shows scheduled to air Friday) has now won 23 consecutive days and racked up $755,360 in winnings.

This guy simply has the time down for pressing the button. On Friday's show, for example, he had won over $5,000 before his two opponents had earned a cent! One of them gave him a run, but faded toward the end.

Now the question for Mr. Jennings is: Who Wants To Be The First Jeopardy Millionare? We shall see...

I've always liked Senator Bob Graham, and believe he would make a fine Vice President for presumed Democratic nominee and fellow Senator John Kerry. He's a moderating voice to Kerry, and would be a great geographical balance to the ticket from a state that means a lot in this campaign.

Not meaning to read anything into it, but a couple of notes from a column in today's St. Petersburg Times provide some interesting insight. Kerry is expected to name his running mate early this week, and some are saying Graham is on his short list.

Personally, though, if I were a gambling man I would put my money on North Carolina Senator John Edwards. His youth, energy, and the fact that his own presidential campaign began to gain in addition to the Southern factor are all in his favor. My guess is that Graham would be number two on the list.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

I have never been a fan of vouchers to subsdize students attending private schools with public funds, and I am less so today after what happened this week here in Polk County. It also shows that it is not just a few shysters on radio and television who lie and steal in the name of the Lord.

According to a story in the Lakeland Ledger, a woman who claims to be the "Overseer and Prophetess" of a local church and founded a private school was charged with several members of her family with taking over a quarter million dollars of McCay scholarships and federal breakfast/lunch funds and putting them to personal uses such as rent, entertainment, comedy show tickets, nail and beauty care, among other expenses. While former teachers at the school said that payroll checks often bounced and students didn't have enough books and other resources, she lived in one of Bartow's most expensive homes and bought a $53,000 Humvee.

Do you get the idea there's something wrong here?

That's not only stealing, but using the position of a minister to deceive and steal. There are always a few bad apples in every bunch, even among those who attempt to do go and spread the Gospel. You know, I believe there is a special place in Hades for people like this.