Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Bob Barker told the Associated Press today that after a half century in television, and 35 years as host of The Price Is Right, he will retire next June.

He began his national television career before I was even born...in 1956, when he was tapped to host the NBC game show Truth or Consequences (trivia here: the city Truth or Consequences, New Mexico was renamed after the show). Barker, who will turn 83 on December 12, first appeared on Price September 4, 1972.

Say what you will about his rushing contestants off stage after their game is over or his animal activism, Bob Barker is one of a very true icons of the media remaining. CBS Corporation CEO/President Leslie Moonves put is just right:

"We knew this day would come, but that doesn't make it any easier...Bob Barker is a daytime legend, an entertainment icon and one of the most beloved television personalities of our time."

The European production giant Fremantle Media, which owns The Price Is Right, admits it has been looking for a replacement for Barker "for two or three years".


The way the polls are looking, Katherine Harris will have to find another way to make some money after she loses to Bill Nelson in the U.S. Senate race, and her congressional term ends in January.

According to the Washington Post, that may be as an author. Ms. Harris told reporter Libby Copeland that she plans to write a tell-all book after the election in which she promises to expose those people who she says have wronged her.

This includes, but is not necessarily limited to: the Republican leaders who didn't want her to run, the press that has covered her troubled campaign, and the many staffers who have quit her employ, whom she accuses of colluding with her opponent...

"I've been writing it all year," she says in that kittenish voice. She often smiles and cocks her head as if she's letting you in on a secret. "It's going to be a great book."

The former Florida Secretary of State has written one book, Center of the Storm, in which she writes anecdotes about her role in the 2000 presidential election debacle...probably not bothering to mention her clear conflict of interest as both the state's chief election official and co-chairman of the Florida Bush-Cheney campaign.

Ms. Harris claims that she has evidence that former staff members leaked information to the Nelson campaign, and has said a number of times that it would come out after the election.

But the Orlando Sentinel political blog Central Florida Political Pulse notes that Word of the book prompted one former top staffer to say that given the way Harris insisted on rewriting even minor press releases, the book will never be done.


One political ad I get a chuckle out of at this point is airing in the Tampa Bay area, and shows just how desperate one GOP candidate is to bring out the base.
The ad is from the campaign of former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storms, and attacks her Democratic opponent Stephen Gorham in their race for the State Senate District 10 seat. Although it's been airing for the past couple of weeks, it seems particularly appropriate for Halloween.

It features haunting music throughout, and features Gorham pictures discoloured and fading to make him look monsterous. The voiceover begins by asking why Gorham has been "lying" about Storms. The real laugh comes from the almost constant use of the word "liberal" during the 30 second ad. The caption at the bottom of the screen reads "LIBERAL STEPHEN GORHAM", and early on says that Gorham is backed by the "tax-and-spend liberal" crowd wanting to raise taxes. And at the end, the voiceover says that we "just can't trust liberal Stephen Gorham".

The "liberal" references are especially funny because Gorham is a conservative Democrat who bucks the traditional party line on several issues. His ads identifies him as being "pro-gun, pro-life" and accents his military service and traditional family values.

It's obviously a desperation attempt by the often controversial politico to scare the far-right base and independents that simply won't work.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Tuesday evening's gubernatorial debate was a bit surprising with the addition of Reform Party candidate Max Linn, who won a decision from a federal judge to participate only 20 minutes before airtime.

The millionaire retired financial planner sued host television station WFLA-8 and owner Media General Communications to become part of the event. While WFLA/Media General's requirment stated that a candidate had to meet a seven percent threshold of support in an independent poll (the station uses Mason Dixon Polling & Research, whose last poll showed Linn with one percent), Linn presented as evidence a survey which he paid National Business Communications, Inc. to conduct; it showed he had nearly nine percent support. That was enough for Judge James Whittemore.

Overall, moderator Chris Matthews did a better job than Ray Suarez last week. While I believe that some of the questions didn't really fit a state gubenatorial debate --- for instance, those about Iraq and the Terri Schiavo case --- Matthews pressed the participants hard on several occasions to answer the questions or expand on their answers. My only wish would have been that the Hardball host had done more research on Florida issues and addressed those more.

I thought Davis was much more forceful tonight than last week. However, he really botched up the paper trail question when Matthews pressed him on it. Anyone would be able to correctly answer that a proper receipt would not include a printout of who a voter cast his/her ballot for, as that could potentially violate the idea of a secret ballot. The idea of a paper trail is to 1) verify that the number of ballots that were counted matched the number noted by the computer, and 2) provide for a recount by hand if necessary...which now is not allowed by Florida law.

Crist simply didn't seem as comfortable, now finding out about Linn's inclusion until five minutes before airtime. On several occasions it seemed that the attorney general was on the wrong side of a two-on-one attack, and on several occasions it seemed that he was trying to revert back to the talking points that were the downside of last week's debate. Thankfully, the moderator's pressing style kept that more to a minimum last night.

Linn knew he had to make himself known one way or the other, and he did so on a couple of occasions by directly calling on both men to answer the questions (although the rules of the debate prohibited the candidates from directly addressing each other), and a couple of other times challenged them and their answers. Too little, too late.

If I had to pick a winner tonight, it would have to be Davis.


The Sun Coast Media Group newspapers (Charlotte Sun Herald, DeSoto Sun, Englewood Sun Herald, North Post Sun Herald, Venice Gondolier) published in it's editorial space today 50 feeble reasons why you shouldn't vote.

Actually, while you have the freedom to vote or not, there is no really good excuse not to take advantage of one of our nation's most precious liberties. It is really an important obligation of citizenship to get to your polling place next Tuesday --- or take advantage of Early Voting this week --- and choose who you best feel will represent you and your interests for the next four years. Friends, learn more about those seeking your vote...and GO DO IT!


There is an interesting series of stories in today's Miami Herald looking at how voters throughout the state feel with just over a week left before election day. Many of the voters in the five counties across Florida interviewed state they are tired of high insurance bills, housing costs, what many feel is the low quality of their public schools, and the American occupation of Iraq. Who they blame in many instances is according to their registered party affiliation, and more voters are choosing no political party affiliation.

You can click on the seperate stories on what the Herald reporters learned from the voters in Flagler, Jackson, Osceola, Broward, and Charlotte counties, along with the audio from some of the interviews conducted.


Tonight will mark the second and final debate between the two major gubernatorial candidates, Congressman Jim Davis (D) and Attorney General Charlie Crist (R), to be held in the studios of Tampa television station WFLA - 8 and broadcast over Florida's NBC affiliates. The debate tonight will begin at 7:00 (can't afford to preempt Deal or No Deal, which might be a better title for this event), and will be moderated by MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews, who told the St. Petersburg Times that he will ask short, to-the-point questions.

There was some rancor early on which actually threatened this debate from taking place. The issue regarded what format the event would use. It was originally set up to take advantage of the freewheeling style that Matthews uses on Hardball with the candidates and moderator seated around a table, but Crist's team would have no part of that, insisting on a traditional format with the candidates behind podiums as was the case for their first debate at Nova Southeastern University.

This will actually be the first of two televised debates this week. The Florida NBC affiliate group is also sponsoring the U.S. Senatorial debate between incumbant Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Congresswoman Katherine Harris Wednesday evening from the campus of the University of Central Florida in Orlando, to be moderated by NBC News Senior Vice President/Washington Bureau Chief and Meet The Press host Tim Russert. Both debates will also air nationally on the cable channel MSNBC.

Let's just hope tonight's event will be more interesting that the last snoozefest between Davis and Crist, and let's hope that both men will be able to stay away from the usual talking points and actually answer the questions posed to them with some detail. The people of Florida deserve at least that.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


By now, many of you have seen or heard about the campaign ad paid for by the Republican National Committee aimed against Congressman Harold Ford in his tight race for the U.S. Senate seat up for grabs in Tennessee. In addition to the attractive white female in her best Marilyn Monroe voice cowing "Call me, Harold", another face in the ad says Ford has taken contributions from porn producers.

John Marshall at the Talking Points Memo blog notes today that RNC chief Ken Mehlman shouldn't be one to talk, as his organization has received a number of contributions "from Nicholas T. Boyias, the owner and CEO of Marina Pacific Distributors, one of the largest producers and distributors of gay porn in the United States."

The posting notes that according to the Federal Election Commission Web site, Boyias contributed to the RNC three times last year and twice this year. And while FEC records show Boyias as either self employed or the owner/CEO of NTB, Inc., records in the California Secretary of State's office show that NTB's address is identical to that of Mariana Pacific Distributors.

While pornography is considered by many to be distasteful and morally wicked, it is a legal enterprise, and those involved in the business certainly have the right to participate in the political process. I do agree with Mr. Marshall that while it's difficult for the head of a political party committee or candidate to know the backgrown of every contributor, during this issue, RNC chief Ken Mehlman is nothing but a hypocrite.


A couple of days ago, I was listening to my radio while waiting on the bus to get home from work, and along came a Charlie Crist radio ad, the first I had heard. Endorsing the Attorney General was John Walsh, host of the FOX television show America's Most Wanted. He is well known as a former businessman who lived with his family in the Miami area when his son, Adam, was kidnapped and murdered more than 20 years ago. From that time he became an activist to protect children, which eventually led to the TV gig which is based in his adopted home of Washington, DC.


First, my sincere apologies for this being so late in the day. Apparantly there have been some problems with Blogspot which prevented me from posting this earlier.

We're heading into the last week of Early Voting, and most of the major newspapers across Florida have already made their recommendations on statewide races. To check those out --- listed by candidate --- please click here.

But there are still a few papers apparantly waiting to reach the most readers with their picks for the upcoming elections. Let's look at who's picking today...

"Rarely has the right choice in a U.S. Senate race in Florida been as clear as this year." That's how the Orlando Sentinel begins it's editorial this morning endorsing incumbant Democrat Bill Nelson for reelection. It also says that "While he has taken a moderate position on key national issues, Mr. Nelson also has been a good steward of Florida's interests."

The Florida Times Union in Jacksonville also endorses Senator Nelson this morning, noting that "Nelson's familiarity with Northeast Florida - his wife was raised in Jacksonville - and his willingness to fight for his constituents, is a strong reason to support him for a second term in the U.S. Senate". It also recommends Republican Charlie Crist in the Florida governor's race, calling him "a man of depth, vision and principle" and "the right choice to continue the legacy of Jeb Bush."

Also falling on the side of Attorney General Crist is the South Florida Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. Although the editorial states unhappiness with both Crist and Davis on several key issues, it states that "He also has a track record of working with others in Tallahassee and throughout the state to get things done".

Mr. Crist also gets the endorsement of the Lakeland Ledger this morning "because of his unconventional approach to the office and his proven record of accomplishment. He's in position to bring the Florida Republican Party, and Florida itself, back into the political mainstream".

And the Tallahassee Democrat is also endorsing Crist today, noting that his "clear advantages in leadership style, his willingness to listen to experts, hire strong independent thinkers, and patiently pull together natural opponents until he can discern 'the right thing to do,' are compelling reasons to support him as Florida's next governor".

On the other side is the Gainesville Sun, who endorses Democrat Jim Davis today. It's editorial states that "...we think Florida needs a break from Jebocracy...We also worry that one reason Crist is so intent on associating himself with Gov. Bush is that he has so few original ideas of his own with which to lead Florida into the future". It also notes that Crist's plan for cutting taxes further would "put cities and counties --- especially small towns and rural counties --- into virtual bankruptcy, and Crist has no plan for replacing those local revenues".

And the St. Petersburg Times endorsed Davis today. The editorial said that "Looking ahead, Florida faces serious challenges even if it manages to avoid a major hurricane in the next year or two. On the most pressing issues, Davis has the more thoughtful approach...The Democrat has a reasoned plan to restructure the way Florida measures the performance of its schools. The obsession with standardized testing and grading schools has frustrated many teachers and parents. Davis would transform the FCAT into a diagnostic tool instead of a punishing club by abolishing the letter grades that simplistically label schools...Similarly, Davis has the most thorough response to concerns about high taxes driven by soaring real estate prices and the inherent inequities created by Save Our Homes. Davis would reduce state-required school property taxes by $1-billion next year and stop the state from continuing to shift its financial obligations onto the backs of local property owners. He would cap assessment increases at 10 percent for owners of businesses and investment properties, the taxpayers who are suffering the most. That offers reasonable relief until there is a broader overhaul of the tax system."

The Sarasota Herald Tribune uses it's opinion space today to simply remind readers of it's recommendations in the various races which will be on the ballot.

Some newspapers which have already made their recommendations (or not) are focusing on other issues. The Fort Myers News Press, for instance, is ending a four part series on insurance rates, stating that state government has not used it's potential power to regulate the insurance industry on behalf of the consumer. It's editorial page calls on readers to contact their state executive and legislative representatives to demand action now and includes their e-mail and telephone contact numbers.

In the Panhandle, the Pensacola News Journal opinion page also deals with the insurance issue. It says that "the Legislature should stop being so scared of the insurance industry and remember where its allegiance lies -- with Florida residents. We don't need insurance lobbyists writing anymore legislation for rubber-stamp approval by the Legislature". It calls on a special session of the Legislature to look at several ways it feels residents could be helped.

The Miami Herald says this morning that the people of Miami-Dade County should rethink the structure of it's local government in the wake of a year of waste and mismanagement, saying that the 13 commissioners "all are responsible for protecting the public interest -- but they consistently drop the ball on oversight".

Affordable housing and the need for more in Southwest Florida is the subject of today's editorial in the Naples Daily News, which notes that it is an issue that touches everyone in the area because "without places for necessary workers to live, necessary jobs are going to go unfilled and the qualify of work has only one way to go --- downhill."

The Ocala Star Banner turns it's editorial space over to Bill Sommers, whose son died in a house fire on Halloween night last year.

Today's Palm Beach Post notes that while some question the timing of former Congressman Mark Foley's decision to seek treatment --- noting that as a member of Congress "Foley had premium health-care insurance through his office and access to counseling services most Americans wish they had" --- is not the underlying issue, but that "Foley's disclosures aren't excuses, but they are symptoms of problems that could have been treated, or prevented, decades ago. Why they weren't is a question not only for the former congressman but also the church, the legal system and society as a whole."

Thanks for visiting, and make it a great day!

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I've noticed that gas prices here in Lakeland have begun creeping upward over the past couple of weeks. Only a few cents, mind you, but it does seem that prices aren't waiting for Election Day to head back upward as many have speculated.

At one Racetrac convenience store on U.S. 98 which I visit regularly, the per gallon price of regular hit a low of $2.05.9 nearly two weeks ago. Now it is back to $2.18.9.

The upward spiral has already begun...


The First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled late Friday that notices can be posted or be made available at polling places in the 16th Congressional District to inform voters that a vote for former Republican Congressman Mark Foley will actually be counted for State Representative Joe Negron, who party leaders chose to replace Foley on the ballot.

Foley resigned in the wake of a scandal involving inappropriate e-mails and other communication with current and former congressional pages. His resignation came after the ballots for the November 7 general election had already been printed.

However, the unanaimous decision stated that such notices must also include information about the other two candidates for the congressional seat, Democrat Tim Mahoney and independent Emmie Ross.

You can read the decision by clicking here (.pdf file).

Also, the Cook Political Report has moved the 16th District race from "Lean Democratic" to a "Toss Up" as Negron has apparantly gained ground in the eight county district. And in the 13th District race between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings, it was moved from a "Toss Up" to "Lean Democratic" catagory.


In recent weeks, it has been agreed that Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist has been the front runner in the gubernatorial race against Democratic Congressman Jim Davis. But how much of a lead was according to which poll you chose to believe. While a couple recently showed the race nearly too close to call, a couple of others still shows Crist with a double digit lead.

The latest St. Petersburg Times poll was released this morning, and it shows Crist with only a six percentage point lead with a week and a half left before election day. The numbers shows Crist favoured by 48 percent, Davis with 42 percent, with ten percent either undecided or supporting another candidate.

"The Oct. 22-25 statewide telephone survey of 800 voters was conducted for the St. Petersburg Times by Schroth/Eldon & Associates, which usually works with Democrats, and the Polling Co., which typically works with Republicans. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points."

One troubling factor for Davis that was confirmed here is that Crist is favoured in every region of Florida except the southeast region of Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach, which is the state's traditional Democratic hotbed. Crist's lead in the Tampa Bay region is eight points, 48-40 percent.

There are also some interesting numbers regarding the candidates' support among black and Hispanic voters.

So what do the pollsters say each man should do heading into these last ten days?

"Crist, they said, needs to closely ally himself with popular outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush. And, [pollster Kellyanne of The Polling Co.] Conway suggested, he should probably avoid becoming too negative in his campaign given that he has been winning over Democrats, independents and women who are likely to be alienated by attacks on Davis.

"Davis, on the other hand, needs to ramp up attacks on Crist to raise doubts about him among swing voters, which could be tough given Davis' limited resources. The pollsters also said Davis should work to mobilize African-American voters and stress his opposition - and Crist's support for - how the unpopular FCAT test is used in Florida."


Thursday, after being informed that it's federal and state funds for various programmes would be pulled, the board of the Polk County Opportunity Council decided not to challenge the regulatory decisions. That means, in effect, that the agency will dissolve within a few months after 27 years of service to the poor of Polk and Highlands counties.

PCOC is best known as being the community action agency that provides the area's Head Start programme for pre-kindergarten age children, but it also assisted low income residents with their utility bills and provided winterization services for the homes of poor elderly residents, among other services.

However, the past several years have been filled with drama. Sloppy recordkeeping and fiscal management, ethical misconduct by a couple of executive directors, and a board of directors who seemed at times to be more concerned in self preservation than in seriously addressing the problems have now brought down PCOC. Finally, after over a year of review, state and federal administrators said that enough was enough and are pulling the plug on it's funding.

It is sad that an agency such as PCOC, which was founded and supposed to be run by people in the community who best know the issues of disadvantaged children, low income families and the elderly, has come to it's eventual demise in this way. But it is probably the only thing that could have been done in order to eventually better serve the people it intended, considering the seriousness of the problems it faced. While the board of directors have made some progress over the past few months, the agency's issues were simply too steep a mountain to overcome.

Polk County School Superintendent Dr. Gail McKinzie has expressed interest in the school district taking over the Head Start programme, and other agencies will eventually step up to offer many of the other services that PCOC offered. I4J certainly hopes the transition period won't be long.


The Fort Myers News Press comes out with it's endorsement to elect Attorney General Charlie Crist as Florida's next governor. The editorial this morning points out that "He is a moderate Republican who has shown his independence from the ideologues in his party, while sticking to the fundamentals that have served Florida well: tough on crime, accountable in education, encouraging to business, easy on the taxes".

Meanwhile, the Pensacola News Journal gives it's recommendation for incumbant Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson to be reelected to a second term, stating that he "impresses as a serious politician. He takes public service seriously and he knows the issues. You get more substance and fewer "sound bites" from Nelson than any politician we have experience with".

Friday, October 27, 2006


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: House Majority Leader John Boehmer (R - OH) will appear to discuss Iraq, former collegue Mark Foley, and whether the GOP can hold the House. Also, actor Michael J. Fox will talk abou this role in the midterm elections. And the roundtable will feature ABC News Senior National Correspondent Claire Shipman, her husband Jay Carney of Time magazine, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, and conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: Programme details and guests for Sunday have not been released as of Saturday morning. Please check back for updates.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: Iraq and the midterm elections will be discussed with a variety of guests. U.S. Senators Richard Lugar (R - IN) and Joseph Biden, Jr. (D - DE), members of the Foreign Relations Committee, Representatives Charles Rangel (D - NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R - Miami), Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Samir Sumaidaie, Major General Paul Eaton (Ret., U.S. Army), who was in charge of Iraqi troop training, New York Times Chief Military Correspondent and author Michael Gordon, American Enterprise Institute scholar and author Norman J. Ornstein, CNN Senior Analyst Jeff Greenfield, and Cook Political Report Senior Editor Amy Walter.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: Senate Campaign Committee Chairpersons Charles Schumer (D - NY) and Elizabeth Dole (R - NC) will appear to discuss their respective party's chances November 7. And the programme will profile two hot U.S. Senate races in Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: The MTP U.S. Senate Debate Series continues, this week featuring the Maryland race between Congressman Ben Cardin (D) and Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele (R).

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: The questions this week have to do with whether President Bush can limit Republican losses in the midterm election, and if Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D - CA) becomes Speaker of the House, can she succeed. The panel will consist of NBC News Correspondent Chip Reed, Kathleen Parker of the Orlando Sentinel and Washington Post Writers Group, Ann Marie Cox of Time.com, and Newsweek magazine writer Howard Fineman.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: Candidates for Attorney General, Republican Bill McCollum and Democrat State Senator Walter G. "Skip" Campbell, Jr. will appear, as well as Chief Financial Officer candidates State Senator Tom Lee (R) and Alex Sink (D).


What is going on here? It seems that whereever you turn across Florida's newspapers, there is yet another story about some local or state public official doing or saying something incredibly dumb.

Of course, there was the whole Mark Foley mess. Just in the past week we've heard about State Representative Rafael Arza (R - Hialeah) leaving several obscene telephone message --- including racial slurs --- for House collegue Rep. Gustavo Barreiro (R - Miami Beach) in an apparant fit of drunkedness.

This morning we see Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden admitting he kissed and groped a woman without her consent in a bar and stating that he, too, will seek help for a drinking problem. And Palm Beach County Commission Chairman Tony Masilotti (R) resigned Thursday in the wake of a federal investigation into possible misuse of power and secret land deals. And that comes only a week after West Palm Beach City Commissioner Ray Liberti was sentenced to an 18 month prison term for fraud.

I mean, is there something in the water, or is it just that more of our public officials truly believe that they are above the law. Stories like this are one of the main reasons why people's confidence in the men and women they elect has continued to drop. It is our responsibility to find and elect responsible people to serve our communities and state.


There are only a few major newspapers across Florida that have not announced their endorsements for statewide races. You can check who has by clicking here, but there are a couple to add to the list today. Those who have not endorsed in major races are likely waiting for this or next Sunday, when the circulation is greater and the message can reach more readers.

But that is then...this is now.

The Fort Myers News Press recommends to it's readers that Democratic incumbant Bill Nelson be returned to the U.S. Senate "for his willingness to support bipartisan proposals to tackle national problems and his ability to articulate the challenges and potential solutions that affect our community".

And up the road a way, today's Gainesville Sun joins the chorus in endorsing GOP incumbant Commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services Charles Bronson for a second term.

That is all.


"You cannot seperate the just from the unjust and the good from the wicked; for they stand together before the face of the sun even as the black thread and the white are woven together...

"And if any of you would punish in the name of righteousness and lay the ax unto the evil tree, let him see to it's roots; and verily he will find the roots of the good and the bad, the fruitful and the fruitless, all entwined together in the silent heart of the earth."

Khalil Gibran (1883 - 1931)
From "The Prophet"

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Yesterday, I expressed my disappointment at both Charlie Crist and Jim Davis for not directly answering the questions asked of them during Tuesday night's gubernatorial debate. Instead, after spending 15 seconds or less giving a brief reference to the issue at hand, both men chose to revert to their standard general talking points and attacks. I would have done as well watching the World Series instead; although the St. Louis Cardinals won, I would not have been disappointed as much.

Looking through the editorial pages this morning, I see that I was not the only one who felt this way. From the Palm Beach Post:

For too much of the debate, the candidates beat their campaign slogans like two-bit motivational speakers. Rep. Davis parried Mr. Crist's criticism of his missed votes in Congress by saying that it wasn't about "showing up, it was about standing up." Then, he declared over and over that he would "stand up" to insurers and other interest groups. Mr. Crist continued to promise that he would "fight" for every Floridian as governor the way he has been "fighting" as attorney general. In their next debate Monday night, maybe the candidates will show up with answers and fight the impulse to duck so many questions.

And from today's Tampa Tribune:

People closely following the governor's race learned little more about the candidates Tuesday night than they already knew.

There's a final debate Monday in Tampa. We'd like to hear more from the candidates than sound bites. Tell us, gentlemen, how you expect to pay for and execute those plans you say will make our lives better.

I also note this opinion from the Miami-based blog Bark Bark Woof Woof:

Welcome to the Jim Davis / Charlie Crist Cliche Festival. I heard nothing that you couldn't get off either candidate's websites and commercials, and very little substance. The only kudos I'll give out are to Mr. Crist for taking a nuanced stance on stem-cell research and not falling into the Religious Reich's vise-grip on the Terri Schiavo case, and to Davis for apologizing for his vote in 1990 against restitution in the Pitts-Lee case.

Other than that, like [Monday] night's squint-fest between Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Katherine Harris in the Senate debate, it was a joint press conference, and amazingly enough, of the four candidates I've seen in the last 24 hours, Katherine Harris was the most interesting to watch, primarily because you never really knew what she was going to do. Not that that's an advantage in a politician.


The biggest endorsement among the state's newspapers today is the Tallahassee Democrat giving it's nod to Democratic incumbant U.S. Senator Bill Nelson for reelection. The editorial notes his centrist position on many issues, and his willingness to occasionally vote with President Bush, saying that "Mr. Nelson could hardly serve this diverse and cantankerous state by being anything but middle of the road on most issues - and passionate on a chosen few. As he was reduced to acknowledging in this understated statewide debate, Mr. Nelson tries to call 'em as he sees him. Most people think that's an honorable and mature approach to public decision-making".

Also offering it's recommendation for Nelson is Florida Today, which refers to his "outstanding leadership for Florida and belief in working across the aisle for bipartisan solutions on issues that are most important to our state and nation".

Here at home, the Lakeland Ledger announced it's endorsements for the Florida Cabinet races. No great surprise, as Polk County's largest newspaper followed the lead of most other major publications across the state: Democrats Walter G. "Skip" Campbell, Jr. for Attorney General and Alex Sink for Chief Financial Officer, and Republican incumbant Charles Bronson for Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The Pensacola News Journal echos our local newspaper in two of those races, picking "Skip" Campbell for AG and Charles Bronson for Agriculture & Consumer Services Commissioner (It endorsed Mrs. Sink earlier).

A couple of random notes here:

Katherine Harris actually has one newspaper endorsement so far that we can see. The Frisbee Publishing weekly newspapers in Polk County --- The Polk County Democrat (Bartow), Lake Wales News, and the Fort Meade Leader --- are backing the local girl. S.L. Frisbee, IV publishes the three newspapers from his offices in Bartow, which is Harris' hometown. Of course, Bartow is also the home of Citrus & Chemical Bank, which was founded by Ms. Harris' grandfather, who died earlier this year and whose legacy she was referring to when she talked about spending up to $10 million on her campaign...money left her from grandpa. The endorsement is nothing more than old school, old money.

The editorial closes:

"We respect Katherine Harris for her integrity, her leadership, her political courage, and her tireless dedication to public service.

"Ours is a voice in the editorial wilderness; we raise it in support of Katherine Harris for the United States Senate."

I won't even respond to the temptation to reply to that "voice in the editorial wilderness" reference.


As many of you know, Early Voting has begun throughout Florida. This week and next, you have the opportunity to visit one of several sites within your county and cast your ballot in advance of the November 7 general election.

I did so yesterday morning at the Lakeland Branch Courthouse, and it was quick as well as convenient. Because of my work schedule, and the fact that my precient is a bit out of the way, it was much easier to take advantage of the Early Voting experience since the branch courthouse was right on the way to my call centre.

We need as many people as possible to cast their ballots in this election, which I fully believe is the most important mid term election in at least two decades. There are a lot of you in the same situation as I, where your voting precient is inconvenient or out of the way, and others who may not be home on election day. And there are still others who simply want to avoid the lines at the precient. For those of you, Early Voting is your answer.

When I arrived just after 9:00 AM Wednesday, a line was virtually nonexistant, and there were only a few folks who had arrived after I did. So please take advantage of this easy and convenient means of helping take our country back.

Thank you,
Robert C.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Florida Today, based on the Space Coast in Melbourne, adds it's voice today in endorsing Democratic Congressman Jim Davis for Governor. The editorial notes that his background, "teamed with aggressive reforms Davis is proposing -- make him the best choice for Florida's next governor" and list five areas in which Davis would attack major problems facing our state.

There are a few newspaper recommendations for Cabinet level positions today. The Orlando Sentinel gives it's endorsement to Republican incumbant Charles Bronson for reelection as Commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

The Fort Myers News Press gives it's nod to Democratic State Senator Walter G. "Skip" Campbell for Attorney General, Republican State Senator Tom Lee for Chief Financial Officer, and Republican Charles Bronson for Commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

In the Panhandle, the Pensacola News Journal gives it's recommendation in the Chief Financial Officer race to Democratic retired banking executive Alex Sink, stating that "In her first run for public office, Sink brings what is needed to the post: an impressive business and financial background, a lively intellect -- and the perspective of someone from outside the too-cozy confines of back-room Tallahassee politics".

Ms. Sink also receives the endorsement of the Tallahassee Democrat, which says that "as the job description for the CFO evolves, Ms. Sink's strong business background will help her bring integrity to the business of government...Working in a regulated industry, Ms. Sink learned the difference between regulation that's good for business and citizens, and regulation that's a barrier to good business".

And in a local legislative race, the Lakeland Ledger offers it's choice as former Lakeland City Commissioner Seth McKeel for the Florida House District 63 post being vacated by fellow Republican Dennis Ross. Some of you may remember that after Ross decided not to run for statewide office, he moved into a neighbouring district to keep a promise to McKeel and was elected without opposition.

Finally, just a reminder that you can check out which statewide candidates have received endorsements from major Florida newspapers by clicking here. And you can look at the complete list of statewide and Polk County area legislative and county candidates, including NPA and write in with links to their biographies (when available) by clicking here. Betcha didn't know there were actually NINE candidates on the ballot for governor, and EIGHT for the U.S. Senate seat.


If I had to pick a winner in last night's debate between Charlie Crist and Jim Davis, I would have to give the nod to Crist, but only by a nose. The Attorney General had better presentation, and seemed more confident in his remarks.

However, if you tuned in looking for anything of true substance, you would have been disappointed. Neither man focused on the questions being asked by moderator Ray Suarez of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. After spending about 15 seconds dealing blandly with the issue being discussed, both men reverted to their standard campaign script. Crist went repeatedly to the "empty chair" attack over Davis' attendance record in Congress, while Davis repeated the same line about his two sons in public schools and the lower SATs and teacher pay four or five times, even when education was not the topic being discussed.

While we didn't have to deal with the lousy panel asking questions as we did Monday night with the U.S. Senatorial candidates, I was disappointed with Mr. Suarez not asking Crist and Davis to remain on topic, which he could and should have.

The World Series game (which was still scoreless after three innings when the debate ended) probably provided more interesting substance. Too bad the Cardinals won; give them credit for some good pitching.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


President Bush will be in West Central Florida today for a fundraising event to help GOP congressional candidate Vern Buchanan. The GOP candidate has been behind in recent polls against Democratic challenger Christine Jennings, and in what has been a close and incredibly negative race, Buchanan is hoping that the chief executive's appearance will give him a needed boost both in voter and financial support.

The two candidates are seeking the 13th Congressional District seat being vacated by Republican and U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris. Almost every TV ad has been negative, with Jennings attacking Buchanan's personal and business ethics while the Republican attempts to label Jennings as a hard core liberal without actually using the word. Last week I saw the first positive ad of the campaign, a Jennings piece.

What surprises me about this event is that usually when the Prez comes to town, it's a big money event...don't even consider RSVPing without a few thousand bucks in the bank account to spare. Today's fundraiser is only $20 per person at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Convention Center. So he's gone down that far, eh?


Tonight's gubernatorial debate may likely have three participants after a Broward County circuit judge late Monday ordered organizers to include Reform Party candidate Max Linn.

Linn, a millionaire financial planner from the St. Petersburg area, sought to be included in the broadcast debate claiming that the organizers' requirement that candidates meet a threshold of ten percent in polls violated his constitutional rights. Circuit Judge Leroy Moe agreed, and it is not known early Tuesday morning wheather the sponsoring organizations will appeal his decision.

The debate, to be aired live tonight at 8:00 by many of Florida's public radio and television stations, is sponsored by Leadership Florida, the Florida Press Association, and Florida's Public Broadcasting Service, Inc.

UPDATE: The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled this afternoon that Max Linn could be barred from participating in tonight's debate, citing a 1998 U.S. Supreme Court case in which an independent candidate was excluded based on "little popular support in the reasonable, viewpoint-neutral exercise of it's journalistic discretion".

Monday's decision does not affect the second scheduled debate, which is scheduled for November 1 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and is sponsored by Florida's NBC television affiliates.

IMHO, the ten percent threshold that the sponsoring organizations placed for candidates to participate is reasonable. There are a total of nine candidates that will be on the gubernatorial ballot in two weeks. If Linn had been allowed to participate, even though polls showed him with single digit support, the other candidates could have demanded a place at the table as well. In a case like that, no broadcaster would ever consider airing a debate with so many candidates because either the time required to broadcast a reasonable discussion would be more than they would be willing to present or the time restraints for candidate answers and responses would be too severe to be meaningful.


There are no endorsements on statewide races today, but the Lakeland Ledger continues it's local recommendations today with the two seats up for grabs on the Polk County Commission. It endorses former commissioner Robert Connors of Lake Wales, the Democratic nominee, over Republican incumbant Randy Wilkinson, noting that Connors "has a solid background in county operations and knows how it can affect private business" while Wilkinson has been ineffective during his eight years in office. In the other race, the newspaper picks another Democrat, Jean Reed of Winter Haven, over former commissioner and Winter Haven mayor Bruce Parker.


To be very blunt, I have to score it a draw.

First, I was unhappy with the choice of panelists. It seemed as though both candidates were getting softball questions and hardly followed up on many of the answers given by both candidates.

Ms. Harris did significantly better than I had predicted. Her getting away from the podium while giving her answers showed that she was comfortable with the format and that she was obviously prepped well in advance. If I were her, I would have avoided the brief attacks on her opponent scattered throughout the hour and focused on her agenda.

I felt that Senator Bill Nelson simply played it safe, which is the smart thing to do if you have a 25+ percentage point lead going into the last two weeks of the campaign.

Everything said, I just didn't feel that either candidate hit one out of the park, thus my grade of a draw.

And what happened to Ray Suarez of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer? He was scheduled to be the moderator for last night's debate, as well as tonight's gubernatorial debate.

Monday, October 23, 2006


The two major party candidates for the U.S. Senate, Democratic incumbant Bill Nelson and Republican challenger Congresswoman Katherine Harris, will meet in their only televised debate this evening at 8:00. The event will be aired on many of Florida's public broadcasting stations. In the Tampa Bay area, you will have several chances to view the event if you can't tonight. The debate will be broadcast live on WEDU-TV 3, as well as:

Wednesday afternoon at 1:00
Thursday night at 11:00
and Sunday evening at 7:00

Tomorrow evening, the major party gubernatorial candidates, Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist and Democratic Congressman Jim Davis, will meet for a live debate, also to be aired on WEDU and other public television stations throughout Florida. If you miss the live debate in the local area, you can also see the debate:

Wednesday afternoon at 2:00
Friday night at 11:00
and Sunday evening at 6:00

Both of these debates will be held at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, and will be moderated by Ray Suarez, a correspondent for The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

The gubernatorial candidates will meet again at 7:00 PM November 1 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando for a debate to be televised on Florida's NBC affiliates. That debate will be moderated by Tim Russert of the network's Sunday chat show Meet the Press.


I had completely forgotten that well known political satarist/comedian Mark Russell was in town last Tuesday for a performance at the historic Polk Theatre in downtown Lakeland. It was a show I would have enjoyed watching, but a few apparantly didn't catch some of the humour intended.

Lakeland Ledger political columnist Bill Rufty made note today that some in the audience who booed Russell's remarks early on, then was yelled at by a man who didn't appreciate his jokes about the current president.

Anyone who has seen or heard Mark Russell's work over several decades should know that he makes fun of anyone in power, regardless of political persuasion. Republicans and Democrats alike provide plenty of material for his performances, and he's not even nearly as biting in his humour than some of the younger political comedians out there today.

Friends, the lesson here is don't take everything so seriously. Find some time to laugh.


Yes, friends. Even after the parade of newspaper recommendations we noted here yesterday, there are still some to pass along on this Monday morning.

The Melbourne-based Florida Today is recommendating it's readers to vote for Democrat Alex Sink for Chief Financial Officer, saying that "voters have a clear choice between a financial expert with a record of accomplishment and a politician who has been part of the state leadership as the insurance disaster has grown worse".

In the state capitol, the Tallahassee Democrat makes it's choice in the Attorney General's race, State Senator Walter G. "Skip" Campbell, "because of his proven ability to foster bipartisanship and his record in private life as a top-flight attorney...As a senator, Mr. Campbell was considered his party's expert on open-government legislation - expertise that would serve the public well should he succeed Charlie Crist as attorney general".

And, in what it calls a "tough choice", the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers --- a group that includes publications in Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, Jupiter, and Sebastian --- asks the questions about the governor's race: "Charlie Crist has been running for governor for eight years. Is he for real? Jim Davis has spent 20 years as a legislator; is he ready for prime time?" In the end, it notes that "At this stage, the best selection is Crist".

Sunday, October 22, 2006


A group of 30 officers with the Philadelphia Police Department had planned this trip since March, putting up a total of around $25,000 to enjoy a "guys weekend out" and enjoy their Eagles play football, something they do each year. This season, the lawmen chose Tampa and the Buccaneers - Eagles game today.

The package was to have included air fare, four nights accomondation, and tickets to the NFL game. Unfortunately, the travel agent had only paid for two of the nights for some of the officers, and no football tickets were forthcoming for anyone.

The story was highlighted on local newscasts Friday night, and the hospitality of Tampa Bay area football fans came through. By Saturday, area fans had donated 25 tickets to the game for the out of town group. The officers say they will try to return the ducats to their owners, as Buccaneers management came through after hearing of the officers' plight and guaranteed tickets for them all.

Not only that, the hotel that ended up getting shortchanged on the four night deal, the Holiday Inn Express near Raymond James Stadium, will "eat the cost" they were shortchanged by the travel agent.

When the group gets back to Philly, they say they will consult with the local district attorney about possible criminal fraud charges against the agent, Anthony Arthur of the Deleware-based You First Travel.

Good to have some good news every once in awhile, eh?


Before I begin this weekly tour of the Sunshine State's opinion pages, let me remind you of a couple of things:

First, you can keep up with which newspapers have endorsed which candidates for statewide races by clicking here. A Tampa-based blog, The State of Sunshine, has a more comprehensive listing of endorsements that include congressional, legislative, and judicial races for the entire Tampa Bay area, as well as the proposed constitutional amendments. We both update these lists daily as needed.

And, don't forget that Early Voting begins tomorrow and will last through next Saturday, November 4. Locations will be open from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. If you live in Polk County, click here to find out which of the six locations are closest to you, along with other valuable information you will need. If you live outside of Polk, check your county Supervisor of Elections' Web site.

Now, let's check out what the editorial pages are saying this morning...

Starting at the top, the Daytona Beach News-Journal comes out endorsing Democratic Congressman Jim Davis for Governor of Florida, citing his "sensible policies that protect the interests of rank-and-file Floridians" on issues such as the enviroment, growth, and health care, among others and noting that "The sooner Florida puts the Jeb Bush years -- and those...who would sustain them -- behind it, the more responsive and protective state government will be to all Floridians".

Another recommendation for Davis comes from today's Sarasota Herald Tribune, noting that "Davis, if elected, might not be able to get his proposals intact through a Republican Legislature, but he could at least initiate change and serve as a check against the excesses of one-party government" and that while "Crist has been a capable attorney general, but Davis is better equipped to handle the demanding job of leading Florida".

The Tampa Tribune offers it's support to Davis' Republican opponent, Attorney General Charlie Crist, stating that "after being in Washington 10 years and likely to face a Republican Legislature, Davis would have far more trouble getting traction for his programs in Tallahassee...Crist is ready to hit the road running, with a fiscally conservative agenda that aims to ensure Florida remains a good - and affordable - place to live and work".

The Miami Herald also offers it's endorsement to Crist, noting that "his combination of legislative effectiveness and moderate conservatism makes him a good candidate for Florida's diverse population". The Herald also endorses Bill Nelson for another term in the U.S. Senate, saying that the Democrat has "earned the trust of Florida's voters and deserves another term."

Another voice in support of Crist comes from the Orlando Sentinel, which says the Attorney General has the "ability to inspire, to build consensus across party lines and to lead".

The Key West Citizen endorses Crist today, based on his accomplishments as AG although it criticizes him for his attack ads on Davis and his flip-flopping on issues. The editorial also recommends U.S. Senator Bill Nelson for reelection, as well as Republican 18th District Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Here at home, the Lakeland Ledger offers it's first endorsement for the general election, also recommending U.S. Senator Bill Nelson for reelection. It slams Polk native and GOP opponent Katherine Harris, saying that her campaign "bears more resemblance to a Monty Python skit than a campaign for high public office".

In Jacksonville, the Florida Times Union announces it's endorsements for three Cabinet level positions: Republican Bill McCollum for Attorney General, Democrat Alex Sink for Chief Financial Officer, and GOP incumbant Charles Bronson for Commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

The St. Petersburg Times also weighs in with it's recommendations on those three races: Democrat Walter G. "Skip" Campbell, Jr. for Attorney General, Alex Sink for CFO, and Charles Bronson for Agriculture & Comsuner Services Commissioner.

In South Florida, the Palm Beach Post endorses Democrat Tim Mahoney in the race for the District 16 congressional seat vacated with the resignation of disgraced Republican Mark Foley. It notes that State Representative Joe Negron, the GOP's selection to replace Foley on the ballot, "hardworking and earnest as he is, offers no promise of the change Washington needs".

Speaking of congressional races, on the Space Coast Florida Today gives it's support this morning to Republican Dr. Dave Weldon's effort for a seventh term in the House of Representatives by sticking to his formula: "Strong results on major issues that are important in his 15th District while appealing to his base with staunchly conservative views".

This morning's Gainesville Sun chooses to focus on local races today, making it's recommendation for Republican Emery Gainey to become Alachua County's first African-American Sheriff.

Up in the Panhandle, the Pensacola News Journal uses it's space to endorse candidates for the Pensacola City Council, encouraging voters to mix some new blood in with the old.

Meanwhile, the Fort Myers News-Press makes it's choices for seats on the 17 independent fire district boards in Lee County.

The Naples Daily News gives it's support for a local roads initiative to be on the ballot.

And the Tallahassee Democrat focuses on local races as well, endorsing candidates for the Leon County and Tallahassee City Commissions, one county judgeship, and Leon County School Superintendent.

Among the newspapers staying out of the endorsement fray completely this morning is the Ocala Star Banner, which uses it's opinion space to encourage the Dunnellon City Council to listen to --- or at least hear --- the voices from both inside and outside the city who are debating the issue of development of the 260 acre Rainbow Ridge Ranch property and it's effect on the neighbouring enviroment

Today's editorial in the South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale is interesting. It notes that the Burleson Independent School District near Fort Worth has a plan in case an gunman or other intruder invades a classroom, one option of which is for staff and students to initiate a diversion or "organized chaos" in which items would be thrown at the intruder's head in order to students to escape. The Sun Sentinel seems to believe it is an option worth looking into further, although the school district says in this letter that it does not support attacking an intruder.

Now that we've attacked the Florida editorial pages, enjoy your Sunday and...GO BUCS!

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Remember Katherine Harris' pledge that she would spend millions in her own personal fortune and that left her from her wealthy banker father when he passed away? She's done some, but nowhere near the $10 million she had promised for her run for the U.S. Senate.

Vern Buchanan has millions of his own to spend. The Sarasota-area auto dealer is worth at least $50 million, according to financial reports filed with the U.S. House Clerk's office. Buchanan just recently added another $850,000 of his own money to his campaign war chest, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune's Political Insider blog. That would make $4.5 million of Buchanan's personal wealth that has been put into the effort to be elected.

Is it doing any good? In one of the most negative campaigns in Central Florida, it's fairly close, but Buchanan is behind. Even his own polling shows him down by three percentage points against Democratic challenger Christine Jennings...within most margins of error, but down.

Apparantly the Republican is unaware or didn't pay attention to recent history. The most a candidate has put of his/her own funds into their campaign in a run for Congress in Florida was four years ago, when Democrat Wayne Hogan spent $4.5 million to challenge GOP incumbant John Mica...he lost, too.


Florida voters aged 18-24 cast their ballots solidly for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, 62-37 percent, two years ago. That is according to the nonprofit research organization CIRCLE based at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy. The problem is, only 21 percent of voters in that age block bothered to vote.

Florida's 18-29 year old population is over 2.2 million, reflecting 18.6 percent of the state's total population. The good news is that 48.8 percent of that group voted in the 2004 presidential election, an increase of 8.6 percent from 2000. But this is a midterm election, when all turnouts tend to be significantly lower. And among the youth vote, only 23.3 percent bothererd to cast ballots two years ago.

The youth vote, while concerned about the economy and the U.S. involvement in Iraq, have their own issues that many feel are not being addressed by either major gubernatorial candidate. Tops among those is the rising cost of a college education in Florida and the need for more financial aid for students from low and middle income families.

In a national poll of 650 18-to-30 year olds conducted by phone last month, education and the cost of college was the top issue mentioned, with the economy and Iraq also being mentioned. Of those surveyed, 42 percent said they were registered Democrats, with 29 percent Republican and 17 percent registered independent. The margin of error was +/- 4.4 percent. The poll was conducted by Young Voter Strategies, a nonpartisan project at George Washington University.

If the Davis-Jones ticket hopes to make it a close race with just over two weeks left before the general election, they need to make a strong push for the youth vote and let them know how important this election is for all Floridians, but especially for them...make it personal. Don't give the same stump speech that's given to other groups...talk about their issues, and --- again --- make is PERSONAL.


No, at least not in regard to statewide races, which is what we are watching closely. However, there is one interesting recommendation today worthy of mention.

While most newspapers --- at least in central and south Florida --- are announcing their endorsements in local and legislative races and on the proposed constitutional amendments, the Fort Myers News-Press bucks the "let's send back the incumbant" trend and gives it's recommendation to Democrat Robert Neeld of Cape Coral over first term Republican incumbant Connie Mack IV of Fort Myers.

The newspaper editorial says that Mack seems to lack a great understanding of the important issues, that he does not seem to understand or fully appreciate the complexity of the job, and that he lacks substance. It says that Neeld, an accountant who was beaten handily by Mack two years ago, "has had a stake in this community all his life and brings a fresh perspective and a highly analytical mind ready to tackle problems...Even if Republicans keep control of the U.S. House of Representatives, too many Americans are saying we need to change the way we do business. We agree."


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: An exclusive interview with President Bush on a variety of subjects, including Iraq, North Korea, and the battle for control of Congress in the midterm elections, along with a reply by U.S. Senator and 2004 presidential opponent John Kerry (D - MA). And the roundtable will feature ABC News correspondents Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson, and conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: The midterm elections will be the focus of this week's conversation, featuring the chairpersons of their respective party's senatorial campaign committees, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Dole (R - NC) and Chuck Schumer (D - NY), along with Cook Political Report Senior Editor Amy Walter.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: The midterm elections and a debate regarding strategy in Iraq will be discussed with this week's guests, U.S. Senators Dr. Bill Frist (R - TN) and Jack Reed (D - RI), former Secretary of State General Alexander Haig (Ret., U.S. Army), former National Security Adviser Professor Zbigniew Brzezinski, American Enterprise Institute Scholar and author Norman Ornstein, Time magazine's White House Correspondent Mike Allen, and CNN congressional correspondent Andrea Koppel.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: The North Korean nuclear issue and strategy in Iraq will be discussed with U.S. Senators Richard Lugar (R - IN), Joseph Biden, Jr. (D - DE), and Carl Levin (D - MI). Also on the programme: Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D - IL) will appear to talk about a variety of subjects, as well as his new book The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. Then, a pre-election roundtable with David Broder of The Washington Post, Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report and National Journal, John Hawwood of CNBC and The Wall Street Journal, and conservative syndicated columnist Robert Novak.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: The panel has not been announced as of early Saturday. Please check again later in the day for a possible update.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: The 9th Congressional District race will be the focus of this week's edition, featuring conversations with candidates Gus Bilirakis (R) and Phyllis Busansky (D).

Friday, October 20, 2006


Even on nights when I am off, I tend to retire early. Last night, though, after a couple of meetings, I came home and enjoyed a great climax to the National League Championship Series, which the St. Louis Cardinals won in the ninth inning over the New York Mets.

And you've got to give credit where credit is due: Mets' Left Fielder Endy Chavez pulled off an amazing plan in the sixth inning...just look at the picture above:

[St. Louis' Infielder Scott] "Rolen pulled the next pitch deep to left and Chavez, a defensive whiz starting because Floyd has an injured Achilles' tendon, raced back to the fence as fast as he could.

In one motion, the 6-foot Chavez jumped with all his might and reached his right arm up and over the 8-foot wall as far as it would stretch. His mouth wide open, he snagged the drive in the tip-top of his glove -- the white of the ball showing atop the webbing like a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Chavez banged into the padded blue wall, buckling a couple of panels, but landed on his feet and came up firing back into the infield.

Jim Edmonds, who had walked, had already rounded second, so second baseman [Jose] Valentin relayed to first for a spectacular double play that ended the inning with Albert Pujols and the bewildered Cardinals watching from the top step of the dugout in amazement."

It will be an interesting Midwestern World Series, as the Cardinals will face the American League champion Detroit Tigers. Although it will be two great teams facing off, I'm certain that the folks at FOX Sports aren't looking forward to what could be a serious drop in ratings. The fact that teams from neither New York or Los Angeles are involved are causing blood pressures to rise a bit among the network's administration, as they are afraid they will be airing a bunch of "make-up" commercials for the drop in ratings.

But for true baseball fans, this promises to be an interesting World Series. As I'm in Tigertown...oh, I meant Lakeland...I can't help but root for the Tigers.