Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I will update this post on occasion to include a complete listing of the active presidential candidates for 2008. Thanks to for providing much of the information here. Click on the Campaign Website link to view the candidate's Website; click on the candidate's name to view their biographical information.

Bowles, John Taylor: Retired USDA Officer / South Carolina - Campaign Website

Daley, Orion Karl: Unknown / New York - Campaign Website
(Biography is from the Web site of the company he founded, Orion Computer Systems. It is the only information available on the candidate)

Thompson, P. Dale: Businessman; Christian Rock Musician / Kentucky
(Biography deals primarily with his music career but is the only available information on the candidate)

Ashe, Warren R.: Unknown / Virginia
Biden, Jr., Joseph R.: U.S. Senator / Delaware - Campaign Website
Clinton, Hillary Rodham: U.S. Senator / New York - Campaign Website
Crow, Randolph W. "Randy": Businessman / North Carolina - Campaign Website
Davis-Aaron, Laura: Contractor / Tennessee
(Biography/Profile is from her MySpace page when she ran for Congress in 2006)
Dodd, Christopher J. "Chris": U.S. Senator / Connecticut - Campaign Website
Edwards, John R.: Attorney; Former U.S. Senator / North Carolina - Campaign Website
Forrester, Michael K.: Unknown / Colorado - Campaign Website
Francis, Danny M. "Dan": Retired Military; Teacher / New York - Campaign Website
Gravel, Maurice R. "Mike": Author; Real Estate Developer; Former U.S. Senator / Virginia - Campaign Website
Jones, Alfonzo: Unknown / California
Kennedy, John Joseph: Author / Georgia - Campaign Website
Krueger, Karl E.: Truck Driver / South Dakota - Campaign Website
Kucinich, Dennis: Congressman / Ohio - Campaign Website
Mohamed, Sal: Chemical Engineer / Iowa - Campaign Website
Obama, Jr., Barack H.: U.S. Senator / Illinois - Campaign Website
Richardson, William B. "Bill": Governor / New Mexico - Campaign Website
Savior, Oloveuse O. "Ole": Artist - Poet / Minnesota
(Biography/Profile is from a City Pages site during his 2000 campaign for U.S. Senator from Minnesota)

Brown, Elaine: Nonprofit Group Chairman; Author / Georgia
Garrett, Nanette "Nan": Attorney / Georgia
Swift, Kat: Newspaper Credit Manager / Texas - Campaign Website

Ferrari, Vinnie: Professional Wrestler / District of Columbia - Campaign Website
Hammer, Alex: Businessman / Maine
Hargis, Bob W.: Ambulance Service Executive Director / Oklahoma - Campaign Website
Imperato, Arthur J.: Retired / Florida (West Palm Beach) - Campaign Website
Regan, Arthur Joseph: Insurance Agent / Massachusetts - Campaign Website
Schriner, Joe: Former Journalist; Drug Counselor / Ohio - Campaign Website
Thompson, Ben: Businessman / Minnesota - Campaign Website
Williams, Rick: Unknown / Tennessee

Burns, Jim: Unknown / Nevada
Chapman, Gene: Truck Driver; Lay Minister / Texas - Campaign Website
Hollist, Dave: Bus Driver / California - Campaign Website
Jingozian, Mike "Jingo": Software Company Founder / Oregon
Kubby, Steve: Businessman / California - Campaign Website
Link, Alden: Manafacturing Executive / New York - Campaign Website
Milnes, Robert: Disabled / New Jersey - Campaign Website
Phillies, George: Physics Professor / Massachusetts - Campaign Website
Smith, Christine: Writer; Charity Founder / Colorado - Campaign Website
Stanhope, Douglas "Doug": Comedian / Arizona - Campaign Website

Ericson, Cris: Unknown / Vermont - Campaign Website

Amondson, Gene: Clergyman / Alaska - Campaign Website

Archangel, Saint Michael Jesus (a/k/a Philip Silva): Unknown / Michigan
Brownback, Samuel D. "Sam": U.S. Senator / Kansas - Campaign Website
Cort, III, Hugh: Psychiatrist / Alabama - Campaign Website
Cox, John H.: Attorney / Illinois - Campaign Website
Gilmore, III, James S. "Jim": Attorney; Former Governor / Virginia
Giuliani, III, Rudolph W.L. "Rudy": Businessman; Former Mayor / New York - Campaign Website
Hayward, Curtis: Unknown / Texas
Howard, Mildred T. "Millie": Medical Office Receptionist / Ohio - Campaign Website
Huckabee, Michael D. "Mike": Clergyman; Former Governor / Arkansas - Campaign Website
Hunter, Duncan L.: Congressman / California - Campaign Website
Lloyd-Duffie, Elvena E.: Unknown / Texas
McCain, III. John S.: U.S. Senator / Arizona - Campaign Website
Ogin, Frederick Eugene. "Fred": Unknown / Oregon
Paul, Ronald E. "Ron": Physician (OB/GYN); Congressman / Texas - Campaign Website
Raven, William N. "Doc": Unknown / Oregon
Romney, W. Mitt: Attorney; Former Governor / Massachusetts - Campaign Website
Sanders, Marshall S.: Businessman / California
Smith, Michael Charles: Computer Company Executive / Colorado - Campaign Website
Smith, Richard Michael: Merchandising Executive / Texas - Campaign Website
Tancredo, Thomas G. "Tom": Congressman / Colorado - Campaign Website
Thompson, Tommy G.: Attorney; Former Governor / Wisconsin - Campaign Website

Sharkey, Jonathan "The Impaler": Unknown / New Jersey


In addition to all the commercial and other hype that surrounds the NFL's championship game, it seems as though another tradition has begun: Being able to watch players from Lakeland --- and, more specifically, Kathleen High School in the western area of town --- play for bragging rights and the Super Bowl ring for themselves, not to mention their team's own Vince Lombardi Trophy.

This year, it will be Chicago Bears tight end Desmond Clark representing Lakeland. He will be the sixth player from here, and the fifth Kathleen graduate, to play in the big game. Of course, playing for the title so close to home in Miami's Dolphin Stadium has to be an extra incentive going into Sunday's main event.

The others Kathleen Red Devils to make it to the Super Bowl:

Kenny Gant - "The Shark" was a catalyst for the Dallas Cowboys' special teams returning kicks in the early 1990s. Gant played in the Cowboys in their 52-17 Super Bowl XXVII win over the Buffalo Bills as well as their 30-13 win the following year in Super Bowl XXVIII. He was acquired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent in 1995 but only played sparingly as a safety for head coaches Sam Wyche and Tony Dungy before being released during the 1997 season. Unfortunately, the link at his name only highlights his Buccaneer years, and is the closest thing to a biography you'll find on the Internet.

Ray Lewis - Probably the best known NFL player to come out of Polk County, he led the Baltimore Ravens to victory in Super Bowl XXXV (played in Tampa's Raymond James Stadium) over the New York Giants and became the first linebacker to win the championship game's Most Valuable Player award in 20 years. The Bartow native and former University of Miami Hurricane is still playing with the Ravens, and with his accomplishments should take him to induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ray Lewis Official Website

Freddie Lee Mitchell - Played much of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles and participated in Super Bowl XXXIX, which the Eagles lost a heartbreaker to the New England Patriots 24-21. Probably better known for sparking a controveresy during Super Bowl week in which, during an interview with ESPN's Dan Patrick, he intentionally misidentified the numbers of the Patriot secondary and called out New England safety Rodney Harrison. Played college ball at UCLA. At last report, Mitchell was doing substitute teaching at a high school in Indiana.

Ronnie Smith - Played wide receiver during the late 1970s/early 1980s for the Rams (then still in Los Angeles), Chargers, and Eagles. He particiapated as a member of the Rams in their 31-19 loss to the Terry Bradshaw-led Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIV. Unfortunately, no bio is available online.

For all of Lakeland High School's successes over the years on the gridiron, it has provided only one player for the Super Bowl. Rod Smart is probably best known for his season with the Las Vegas Outlaws of the short-lived XFL, where he wore a jersey with "He Hate Me" on the back. Smart played in Super Bowl XXXVII as a kick returner/running back for the Carolina Panthers, who lost to New England 32-29.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


From today's editorial in the Hattiesburg American from my hometown in Mississippi:

The year is not even a month old and already a dozen and a half individuals say they want to be elected president. That’s the most recent count by one major network. That’s right, 18, almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Talk about an even playing field.

Of course, that was last week. This is a fluid flirtation for the highest office in the land. Things can change fast. On Wednesday, John Kerry, the unsuccessful Democratic Party presidential nominee in 2004, said he was not going to be a candidate in 2008. Meanwhile, another Republican threw his hat in the ring the same day.

All of which gives us a great idea. Why doesn’t each side – Democrats and Republicans – field a baseball team? Since the first caucuses are in Iowa one year from now, they could dub it “Field of Gleams,” a parody of the popular movie and a harbinger of the smiling presidential faces we’ll see over the next 12 months.

Should the two parties decide to play basketball, each side would have four substitutes. It might bruise the ego of those who aren’t starters but it may encourage them to get on the sidelines a whole lot sooner.

Then there’s football. But since each side needs 11 players, it’s probably best they stick to non-contact sports. Which is probably not the way the 2008 election is likely to turn out.

My friends back home in Mississippi may not be aware that six and eight man football is played in Texas and several other states.

Or, you might call up Vince McMahon at the WWE and have him set up a Royal Rumble event with the candidates...


We haven't done one of these in awhile, so when I saw this quote in a South Florida Sun Sentinel story from Monday, I knew I had to put it up:

"There's a lot of action. It's like when you turn on the lights and you see five cockroaches scurrying across the floor looking for crumbs."

Orlando-based trial attorney John Morgan ("For the People"), a heavy duty fundraiser for Democratic candidates, talking about the unprecedented amount of early organizing being done in Florida by confirmed and potential presidential candidates from both parties.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Author and lecturer Dr. Yossi Olmert, brother of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, thanked America for it's support and denounced enemies of Israel during an appearance Sunday at Without Walls Church Central in Lakeland.

Today's Lakeland Ledger reports that the visit was arranged by the Jewish National Fund, an organization that promotes investment in Israel, and came on a day designated for support of the Jewish nation by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

In an interview following the service Sunday morning, Olmert denounced former president Jimmy Carter's controversial new book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid as "one big lie", noting that "The use of the word apartheid is particularly troubling, because this is an indication Israel may be an illegitimate state, using apartheid against the Arab citizens. It's a very negative contribution from the former president to the situation in the Middle East".


This morning I have updated the list of candidates who have either officially announced that they are running, or have formed exploratory committees to determine their chances, for President of the United States (or, at least, their party's nomination). The post will be updated regularly as individuals join in or drop out.

While everyone knows, or at least will hear much more about, the Hillary Rodham Clintons and John McCains and Rudy Giulianis and Barack Obamas in the race, it's interesting to read about some of the lesser known least, those who have included a biography on their site. Some are quite eccentric, others have a specific agenda that they wish to promote. But they all have something to say, even if most don't have a snowball's chance in Hades of being elected.

Check it out!

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Let's look at what the editorial pages around the I-4 Corridor have to say today...

We'll begin in Sarasota --- a little out of the way, I admit --- where the Sarasota Herald Tribune opinion says that the United States would have a better chance securing it's borders if it would only ease the pressures on the borders. It notes that while a new or improved guest worker programme as suggested by President Bush in his State of the Union address would not provide the resolution he hopes, it would allow law enforcement agents and the Border Patrol to focus more on terrorists and criminals seeking to enter our country.

Higher education is a major issue being discussed in several Central Florida editorial pages this morning, thanks to the recently released, brutally honest assessment of Florida's system by the Pappas Consulting Group and commissioned by the state's Board of Governors. The Daytona Beach News Journal takes note that while there has in the past been a disconnect between the five colleges and universities based in Volusia and Flagler counties and the communities where they are located, the situation is improving. And it takes note of the Volusia/Flagler Higher Education Consortium, which was founded six years ago and through which the DBNJ says community leaders should use to begin a dialogue.

The Tampa Tribune correctly calls the assessment "a call to action", and calls on Governor Charlie Crist to 1) convene a higher-education summit to confront the issues raised in the Pappas assessment, and 2) appont a second commission which would address the financial challenges posed by the Bright Futures scholarship programme and the Stanley G. Tate Prepaid College Plan. And across the bay, the St. Petersburg Times notes that the lack of a master plan has promoted ineffeicency and duplication, not to mention political meddling. While it doesn't give specific recommendations, the Times says that the issue deserves "a dignified and orderly debate".

Politics is the order of the day on the Orlando Sentinel opinion page this morning. The field of announced presidential candidates from both major political parties is already crowded (see the list here), not to mention those who are considering a run and the third party and independent candidates. The Sentinel has published the type of speech they would like to hear from a candidate, regardless of party.

Here at home, the Lakeland Ledger editorial takes note of the recently released first annual report by the 15-member Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida, established two years ago to look 50 years into the future and predict the long term consequences of decisions made today. It encourages the governor and legislators to seriously consider the recomendations from the report, chief among them a need to begin a process to reduce the state's dependence on imported oil.

And the Melbourne-based Florida Today is using it's editorial space today to invite readers to a forum being held Tuesday to explore the growing affordable housing crisis in Brevard County and throughout the Space Coast region. It notes that within the past six years, Brevard's median home price has skyrocketed from about $93,000 to more than $200,000 while salaries have failed to keep pace.

I've got to work today, so everyone take care, and keep's gonna be chilly for the next few days.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


I was reading the latest post on the Palm Beach Post's political blog Q this evening and noted that Governor Charlie Crist stood up and personally nominated Jim Greer to become the Florida Republican Party's new chairman today during their gathering at Disney's Swan Resort (Greer defeated incumbant Carole Jean Jordan 102-89). A reader replied with glowing praise for the new governor's "nearly unprecedented modern bipartisan approach to governing" and even provided an interesting prediction:

"...Charlie Crist will be a lock to be viewed nationally as a choice pick for any GOP presidential aspirant in 2008 for VeeP running mate. He will smartly allow himself to be courted and firted with — but respectfully decline the opportunity (as he should). He will govern Florida as a powerful statesman with national clout — and, you heard it here first, will be the GOP’s best and brightest choice for President in 2012."

While I can even offer some praise for what he has done so far, one has to remember that Crist has only been in office less than a month. It's a bit early to begin talking national ambitions at this extremely early stage. Give the man time to stand on his own or fall.

One other interesting note: In the RPOF press release announcing the election of Greer and other members of the party's executive team, Ms. Jordan stated that “Chairman Greer will bring to the chairmanship a record of achievement and a positive vision for the future of the Republican Party of Florida...His strong relationship with Governor Crist and our Republican elected leaders, coupled with a business-like approach to the Party, bodes well for both our Party and continued Republican successes in Florida”. However, Q reported that when she was nominated for re-election by several small county party officials after the governor had put Greer's name forward, she accepted saying that “we don’t have time for on-the-job training”.

I laughed at the mention in the St. Petersburg Times' political blog The Buzz noting the final vote of 102-89:

"It was a secret ballot, so we don't know if there turned out to be 18,000 undervotes.Nor do we know if Carol Jean will remain on the governor's Christmas card list."

Probably not, Adam.


The key topic of conversation this week on almost all the programmes will be President Bush's decision to send more military personnel into Iraq, and the growing opposition on nearly all sides to that idea.

ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: U.S. Senators Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D - DE) and Richard Lugar (R - IN) will discuss the debate over Iraq. Also, Congressman and newly announced presidential candidate Duncan Hunter (D - CA) will appear to talk about his bid for the White House. And the roundtable will include former Pentagon spokesperson Torie Clarke, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz, and conservative columnist George Will in a discussion of the week's politics.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: The Plan for Iraq will be discussed with three U.S. Senators: Jim Webb (D - VA), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R - KY), and Arlen Specter (D - PA).

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: Will the political debate in Washington have an effect with what's happening in Bagdhad? That question will be pondered with U.S. Senators Jay Rockfeller (D - WV / Intelligence Committee Chairman), Jon Kyl (R - AZ), and Christopher Dodd (D - CT / Presidential Candidate). Also on board: former Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele of Maryland, a former Republican, and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate Sam Brownback (R - KS) will discuss Iraq and his White House bid. And will the Iraq issue simply be the first salvo of many between the President and the Democratic controlled Congress? That will be discussed with U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I - CT)

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: Discussing Iraq: U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D - NY), and David Vitter (R - LA), Michael J. Gerson of the Council of Foreign Relations, and Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institution. And on the set: former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) to discuss his plans for 2008...will he run, or not?

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: The panel will consist of CBS News National Political Correspondent Gloria Borger, Howard Fineman of Newsweek, Time magazine's Ana Marie Cox, and Andrew Sullivan of Time and The New Republic. They will discuss wheather Republicans in Congress will continue to abandon President Bush on Iraq, and if U.S. Senator and likely GOP presidential candidate John McCain (R - AZ) will be the "odd man out" on Iraq.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco and State Senator Mike Fasano (R - New Port Richey) will be this week's guests.


While many in the community choose to ignore or forget the number of homeless that live among us, it's especially hard to do when the temperature gets as cold as it has the past couple of nights. While many expect a large number of men and women living on the streets in Tampa or Orlando, many probably didn't expect to have such a large number amongst us in Imperial Polk County.

The Lakeland Ledger reports this morning that the city's three homeless shelters, run by the Salvation Army, Talbot House Ministries, and Lighthouse Ministries, have been filled to beyond their normal capacities the past couple of nights as the temperature has dropped into the 40s. The Salvation Army and Lighthouse Ministries reported more than 100 guests each spending the night during the past three days, with the larger Talbot House hosting more than 200 overnight. Those numbers reflect a beyond capacity status for all three shelters.

It's amazing to believe that according to a recent article in Lakeland magazine, which is published by the Ledger, LAKELAND, FLORIDA has a homeless population of nearly 2,500.

The homeless issue has come to a head in nearby St. Petersburg following the murders of two homeless men and city officials raiding a "tent city" of homeless people, slashing their tents citing code violations. The National Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group, plans to release it's annual report on hate crimes against the homeless at a news conference there early next month.

Thankfully, things have not gotten that serious here, but it is an issue that our leadership at all levels should seriously think about. As the fiscal gap between the classes continues to widen, and new construction in many cases doesn't seem to be focused toward lower middle class families, not to mention apartments rents continuing through the roof for many (those units that have not been converted into condos), I'm afraid we may see an increase in the number of men and women living on the streets. And remember that while many choose to picture many among the homeless as alcoholics and/or drug abusers stuck with panhandling for their next bottle or fix, that is by no means the case much of the time. While we may have trouble believing it, the truth is that many of us are likely one or two lost paychecks away from being in the same boat.

While the organizations mentioned above have truly done a yeoman's job and work hard at improving the personal situations for those who seek their help, it often seems like a drop in the bucket.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


The I-4 Corridor Group, an informal gathering of mainly Democratic and progressive activists from throughout the I-4 region, will meet this evening at 7:30 in the fellowship hall of the First Institutional Baptist Church, at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Memorial Boulevard (U.S. Highway 92) near downtown Lakeland.

For those not familiar, this group has been in existance for several years, and is not officially affiliated with any other political party or organization. These are activists in every sense of the word, and you are invited to attend and join in the discussion.

The guest speaker for tonight's meeting is noted as a "surprise", so we'll just have to show up and find out who it will be.


Regardless of if you agree or disagree with a politician's point of view, one has to respect when he or she decides to actually vote their conscience...even if they are fully aware there will be a price to pay.

That's what happened over the weekend to two up-and-coming state representatives, Republicans Dennis Ross of Lakeland and Donald D. "Don" Brown of DeFuniak Springs. They were the only two votes against the Legislature's comprimise property insurance package during the recently completed special session.

Ross had only recently been named as Chairman of the House Safety and Security Council by Speaker Marco Rubio (R - Coral Gables), and Brown, an insurance agent, had been selected as Chairman of the Jobs and Entrepeneurship Council and a member of the Rules and Calendar Council.

Both men lost their chairmanships after being requested by Speaker Rubio to submit their resignations. Ross told the Orlando Sentinel that Rubio said during their meeting that ""he needs leaders that are with him on major votes."

"My vote cost me my chairmanship. That's the price you pay if you want to express yourself," Ross said, though he added that he did not hold hard feelings toward the speaker. "This is a very emotional issue, highly charged, and very political….I was aware that there would be consquences [to voting against the bill.]"

Ross was bumped to Vice Chairman of the Safety and Security Council and received assignments to two other committees. Brown was named Chairman of the Insurance Committee along with posts on three other committees and councils.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Remember the Swift Boat Veterans attack ad that helped torpedo John Kerry's presidential bid in 2004? Apparantly some on the far right are at it again, so scared of the two Democratic front runners that there's no level that some of them will dip to. Of course, the efforts this time has key help from a couple of Rupert Murdoch's media properties, including Fox News.

From the CNN report:

Allegations that Sen. Barack Obama was educated in a radical Muslim school known as a "madrassa" are not accurate, according to CNN reporting.

Insight Magazine, which is owned by the same company as The Washington Times, reported on its Web site last week that associates of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, had unearthed information the Illinois Democrat and likely presidential candidate attended a Muslim religious school known for teaching the most fundamentalist form of Islam...

Insight attributed the information in its article to an unnamed source, who said it was discovered by "researchers connected to Senator Clinton." A spokesman for Clinton, who is also weighing a White House bid, denied that the campaign was the source of the Obama claim.

He called the story "an obvious right-wing hit job."

CNN dispatched Senior International Correspondent John Vause to Jakarta to investigate.
He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.

"This is a public school. We don't focus on religion," Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."

Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.

"I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa ... like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said on the "Situation Room" Monday. "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that."

Vause also interviewed one of Obama's Basuki classmates, Bandug Winadijanto, who claims that not a lot has changed at the school since the two men were pupils..."It's not (an) Islamic school. It's general," Winadijanto said. "There is a lot of Christians, Buddhists, also Confucian."
The Obama aide described Fox News' broadcasting of the Insight story "appallingly irresponsible."

Fox News executive Bill Shine told CNN "Reliable Sources" anchor Howard Kurtz that some of the network's hosts were simply expressing their opinions and repeatedly cited Insight as the source of the allegations.

If anything, it shows that at least the right wing nuts can actually read. Senator Obama has written in both of his books, "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope", that he attended a Muslim school for two years while living in Indonesia with his mother and stepfather. What the Insight article fails to mention is that Obama also attended a Catholic school for the other two years he was there. Maybe it was the Catholic school that was radical? Remember, it was some of these same types that tried to use John F. Kennedy's religion against him when he ran for president in 1960, saying he would get his marching orders from the Vatican.

And it's no great surprise to note that Insight's Web site says in it's response to the CNN reporting that "The liberal media establishment is at it again". Here is their response.

Let's all play like grownups and decide this election on the basis of issues...not where a candidate went to elementary school 30-plus years ago, his or her religious beliefs, or other mundane BS.

Monday, January 22, 2007


The Sarasota Herald Tribune notes this morning that former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani will be in the area this week as one of several featured lecturers for the Ringling School Library Association's 2007 Town Hall series.

Giuliani's name has been mentioned for some time as a likely GOP presidential candidate, and a few months ago he formed a exploratory committee to determine if he has the support to make a feasible run for the White House. The former mayor was last in the area several months ago to assist the congressional campaign of fellow Republican Vern Buchanan. He told the Herald Tribune that his visit to Southwest Florida has nothing to do with a possible presidential run.

His lectures will likely touch on his role as mayor in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, his various business ventures, and his battle against prostate cancer.

Giuliani actually isn't the only top-tier speaker scheduled for the lecture series. Also scheduled: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (February 12), author Daniel Pink (March 5), primate researcher Jane Goodall (March 27), and musician/producer Quincy Jones (April 11).


I ended up 1-for-2 Sunday in picking championship teams. Being from the Gulf South, I was rooting for the New Orleans Saints to build their remarkable season to a climax at the Super Bowl, but it was simply not to be. Blame it on the cold of Soldier Field, or whatever else you want, but although the conference championship was not to be in their grasp, the Saints have capped a remarkable season and at the same time set an example for the people of their home city and region still suffering from the devestation of Hurricane Katrina.

On the other hand, I knew the Colts - Patriots game would be a good one, and was certainly not disappointed. I picked the team from Indianapolis with Peyton Manning (his daddy's a fellow native Mississippian, although we can forgive him for going to Ole Miss) and one of the finest, classiest head coaches in the business, Tony Dungy. While the Colts had me on pins and needles as the game winded down, they came through when it counted.

Of course, much will be made that this will be the first Super Bowl featuring a black head coach, and in this case, both head coaches will be African-American. Best of friends at that! And I, as with any Bucs fan, will root for the Colts to take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy. There's probably not a more deserving head coach then Dungy, and he's got just the team to do it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


We begin on the west coast this morning, where the St. Petersburg Times calls for former Florida House Speaker Johnnie R. Byrd, Jr. to stop his tactics to advance his own agenda and replace a number of key staff members of the Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute in Tampa which bears his family's name, or for legislators to remove him from it's board of directors.

Meanwhile, only days after the qualification deadline to run for Mayor of Tampa, the Tampa Tribune editorial page offers a strong endorsement for incumbant Pam Iorio's reelection. It states that "ordinary citizens know better. Iorio is a strong leader who has improved the city on almost every front, from fighting crime to revitalizing urban neighborhoods."

Here at home, the Lakeland Ledger noted that while a number of his Republican collegues crossed over to support some Democratic measures, Congressman Adam Putnam (R - Bartow) held firm with no votes on increasing the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over a two year period and approving the use of federal funds for stem cell research. But the main focus of the opinion piece was to criticize Putnam for his 'no' vote on the College Student Relief Act of 2007, which would assist five million college students nationwide who have federally backed college loans by cutting their interest rates in half in five steps over a two year period.

IMHO, our friends at the Ledger should have also made note of Putnam's "nay" vote on H.R. 4, the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, which would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower Part D drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries. When it comes between helping the elderly and lower income citizens of the 12th Congressional District or the big drug companies, we really know which side our so-called Representative falls on.

Today's Orlando Sentinel editorial encourages Governor Charlie Crist to pursue his own path to inproving Florida's schools, but warns him not to weaken standards brought forth by predecessor Jeb Bush, saying that "The letter grades issued to schools each year based largely on their students' performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test remain the best way for parents and taxpayers to judge the quality of their schools."

And the Daytona Beach News-Journal continues it's focus on the main issues to face Volusia and Flagler counties in 2007. This week, their opinion piece deals with conservation and the need for a stronger commitment to preservation of enviromentally sensitive lands.

This week we'll include a look at today's editorial in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, which notes that while this Congress will not be tagged the "do-nothing" label earned by their predecessors from last year, they need to accelerate the schedule of approving budget appropriations that should have been approved before last November's elections. According to a recent Associated Press report, the delay is having an effect on federal law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, ATF, and DEA and their ability to hire new personnel, and the opinion is that it has the potential of complicating efforts to battle terrorism as well as an increasing violent crime rate.

Make it a great Sunday! Thanks for stopping by, and if you haven't visited lately, scroll down and check out some of the other recent posts, rants, and other BS.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


George A. Smathers, a Democrat who served Florida with six years in the House of Representatives during the 1940s and 50s before being elected to the U.S. Senate for three terms, died earlier today. He was 93.

His son, former Florida Secretary of State Bruce Smathers, made the announcement this afternoon, saying that his father had suffered a stroke Monday. He lived in Indian Creek Village, an exclusive island community outside Miami.

Smathers was best known as one of the early voices warning against the rise to power of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and for his expertise on issues related to Latin America. But he was also known as a politician who coddled to the segregationist white voters of the day, and while he supported voting rights for black Americans, he worked to weaken or voted against other measures such as the 1964 Equal Rights Act.

He called among his close friends John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, two men who were elected to Congress at the same time and later became presidents. The Key Biscayne home that Nixon often sought refuge during his presidency was sold to him by Smathers.

After leaving the political realm in 1969, Smathers made a fortune through a variety of business interests. He donated tens of millions of dollars to the University of Florida, his alma mater, and the University of Miami.

A funeral service has been scheduled for January 29 in Bal Harbour.


At least a couple of candidates for president are beginning to shore up their support around the Sunshine State...

Former Republican Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's campaign has been building it's team in Florida. Several of former Governor Jeb Bush's staff members have joined the Romney campaign. Among them: Former Campaign Manager/Chief of Staff Sally Bradshaw, Finance Director Ann Herberger, and Mandy Fletcher, who recently stepped down as Executive Director of Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future. Also on the Romney team are major Florida developers and Bush fundraisers, Mel Sembler of Tampa and Mark Guzzetta of Boca Raton.

Some well known Florida politicos are also supporting Romney, including former Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings and former State House Speaker Allan Bense. And on Friday, the Romney team announced that Congressman Tom Feeney (R - Titusville) has agreed to support his candidacy. That move is expected to help build credibility among fiscal conservatives.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator John McCain (R - AZ) will be in South Florida tomorrow for a private meeting with supporters at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. His appearance tomorrow morning on NBC's Meet the Press will be via satellite from Miami. The senator's effort in Florida is being led by former Jeb Bush and Dick Cheney chief of staff Kathleen Shanahan, with help from Melissa Shuffield, former press secretary for U.S. Senator and new Republican National Committee Chairman Mel Martinez (R - FL), and fundraiser Phil Handy.

There is talk that Governor Charlie Crist may be favouring McCain, but he has not come out publicly to do so. Some political watchers remember that Crist snubbed a visit to North Florida by President Bush to attend a rally featuring McCain, and that the two shared a meal on Crist's campaign plane.

And among Democrats, former U.S. Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, who was John Kerry's vice presidential running mate in 2004, visited South Florida earlier in the week for a private meet-and-greet with trial attorneys from the Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach area.

Friday, January 19, 2007


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: Two presidential hopefuls for next year, U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R - KS) and Governor Bill Richardson (D - NM). Also, ABC News legal correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg will talk about her new book and the revelations within it concerning the battle for control of the United States Supreme Court. And the roundtable will include ABC News' Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts of ABC and NPR, and conservative columnist George Will in a discussion of the week's politics.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: Can Congress Limit President Bush's Plan for Iraq? That question will be discussed with U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R - NE), and three members of the staff of Editor-in-Chief John Harris, Executive Editor Jim VandeHei, and Congressional Reporter Josephine Hearn.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: With more American troops heading into Iraq, will the Iraqi government keep it's promises? And how far will Congress go to change course there? This week's guests to banter those issues will be U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R - SC) and Patrick Leahy (D - VT / Judiciary Committee Chairman), Representatives Mike Pense (R - IN) and Maxine Waters (D - CA), Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Samir Sumaidaie, and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Richard Myers.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: Do Democrats have an alternative to the president's troop surge? U.S. Senators Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D - DE) and Carl Levin (D - MI) will discuss the possibilities. Also, a Republican reaction from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: U.S. Senators John McCain (R - AZ) and Edward M. Kennedy (D - MA) will debate the idea of sending more military personnel to Iraq.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: This weekend's panel --- Howard Fineman of Newsweek, New York Times columnist David Brooks, Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and Norah O'Donnell of MSNBC --- will discuss Democratic presidential hopefuls U.S. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D - NY) and Barack Obama (D - IL) and John Edwards and their take on our military involvement in Iraq and how far will they go. Also, they will discuss wheather former Vice President and current filmmaker Al Gore is about to make a political comeback.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: This week's programme will be a look back at the legislative special session dealing with the state insurance crisis.


Comic impersonator Rich Little has been given instructions not to go after President Bush when he addresses the White House Correspondents' Dinner in late April.

According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Little said event organizers told him they did not want a repeat of last year's appearance by comic Stephen Colbert, whose satire was apparantly not received very well. Therefore, the longtime comedian said he would "not even mention the word Iraq" and stick with his well known impersonations of the past six presidents.

You can bet there won't be any such restrictions when Little appears on February 7 at the Lakeland Center's Youkey Theatre. He'll be doing two shows, at 2:30 and 7:30 PM. If I can afford the $37 ticket, it'll be worth seeing.


If you like an old fashioned parade, then take the kids to Winter Haven Saturday morning. The annual Florida Citrus Parade will begin at 10:00 AM from the Winter Haven Fire Department and Nora Mayo Hall on Third Street, Northwest, heading south along Third Street and U.S. Highway 17 to Cypress Gardens Boulevard and ending at the Citrus Dome.

The theme for the parade, as well as for the 83rd Annual Florida Citrus Festival and Polk County Fair, if "Moovin' and Groovin'". This will be the festival's last weekend (it actually started last Thursday), and as always there are plenty of rides, games, and other entertainment to enjoy with the family.

And the closest thing that Tampa comes to Mardi Gras, the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, will be next weekend, but the family friendly Gasparilla Extravaganza is scheduled for Saturday. There are several events to choose from: a children's parade, pre-schoolers' stroll, a bicycle safety rodeo, a "piratechnic extravaganza", and aircraft aerobatic shows.

If you're a rodeo kinda person, the Lakeland Center is hosting the American Pro Rodeo Classic today and tomorrow. They were gonna do an old-fashioned cattle run through downtown yesterday, but the police department nixed that idea for obvious safety concerns.

Finally, if you like old school 50s do-wop music, Cypress Gardens Adventure Park in Winter Haven is featuring Bobby Vinton Saturday afternoon, beginning at 3:00 PM. If not, you can look foward to Willie Nelson two weeks later on February 3.

Who says there ain't a lot going on?

Thursday, January 18, 2007


For some time now, we've heard from party officials and others in a number of states, including Florida, that they feel ignored and that their voters have little real voice in who their party's presidential nominee will be because their preference primary is scheduled so late in the season. There have been efforts by some states to move their primary earlier, but this trend toward "frontloading" is being seen with disdain especially at the national Democratic Party level, with officials going so far as to threaten the seating of the delegation of any state which does so.

So, how would you resolve this issue in a way that gives states a more even hand that they have now, while keeping the primary process relevant? I believe a one-day national primary is going too far, so...

I would have a series of regional primaries based on geography, scheduled over a period between mid-January and mid-May. The primaries would be scheduled three weeks apart from each other, and each primary would be held in between five to eight neighbouring states. In addition to making it easier for candidates to schedule events within the primary region and travel, this idea would also allow them to focus on issues of specific importance to voters in the area.

The primary system would be based on a rotating schedule, in which the region that holds the earliest primary one election cycle would host the latest the next time around. That way, no state or region would hold a monopoly on who's first.

Needless to say, an idea like this may never get off the ground. It would take a great deal of work from many people; officials from both major politicial parties, state elections officials, among others. But I believe it's an idea that should be considered.

Here would be my example for 2008:

January 15: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York

February 5: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Deleware, District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky

February 26: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi

March 18: Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri

April 8: Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming

April 29: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Alaska

May 20: New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii

So...what do you think?


Some interesting announcements on the changing daytime television picture this week, meaning that some stations may have to make some difficult decisions real soon:

1) It was no great surprise to many that NBC finally made it public that they are expanding Today into a fourth hour to 11AM ET beginning in September. The two main hosts, Matt Lauer and Merideth Vieira, are not expected to be a part of the expansion, leaving those duties to Ann Curry and Al Roker, with possibly NBC News Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory participating.

Will the fourth hour of Today be seen in the Tampa Bay area? If so, most likely it would be on a tape-delay basis. Currently, NBC affiliate WFLA-TV 8 airs the locally produced Daytime in that time slot. BTW: Daytime is the most successful of several shows produced by WFLA/Media General's Tampa-based Riverbank Studios, and is now syndicated to six other stations across the southeast.

2) Over in Orlando, a bit of irony that the nationally syndicated morning show The Daily Buzz will soon no longer be seen live in it's home market...and soon maybe not at all.

The show, a cheap alternative to the "big three" news and feature-fests, is broadcast from the studios of WKCF-TV 18 in Lake Mary from 6-9 AM ET. But since Orlando's CW affiliate was acquired by Hearst-Argyle last year, that time slot was coveted to expand the local news coverage for sister station WESH-TV2. Now the deed is done, and Buzz has been relegated to tape delay from 9 AM - 12 N.

3) And for those of you who have noticed that Jerry Springer Show security chief Steve Wilkos has been doing occasional subistitute host duties when the boss is away. Apparantly, someone liked what they saw. It was announced today that Wilkos, the retired Chicago cop who for his first several years with Springer did so as a moonlighting job while still patrolling the tough Chi-town streets, will get his own show to be produced by NBC/Universal beginning this fall. The announcement said it would be a "companion" programme to both The Jerry Springer Show and Maury.


On September 28, Polk County Sheriff's Office Deputy Matt Williams and his canine partner Diogi were murdered, and another deputy, Doug Speirs, was wounded while chasing a man who fled a routine traffic stop in Lakeland. The resulting manhunt brought in law enforcement officers from throughout the I-4 Corridor and beyond, and the next day SWAT team members stumbled upon suspect Angelo Freeland, firing over 100 rounds and killing him with 68 when he reportedly showed only one hand and noticed a gun in the other.

The PCSO has two seperate investigations still active: A death investigation, and an administrative investigation to determine if the SWAT team's actions were within agency policy. Also, the State Attorney's Office, the Polk County Medical Examiner's Office, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement have or are conducting their own inquiries based within their jurisidictions.

Now, you can add the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI to the list. The DOJ requested the Bureau last month to look into Freeland's shooting based on a request from the Florida Civil Rights Association.

While 101 shots are a bit much by nine or ten officers who were shoulder-to-shoulder in a heavily wooded area, one can certainly understand the situation and tension they were under. Two of their brother officers had been shot, one killed with his canine partner, and the shooter had also fired at two Lakeland police officers shortly afterward. These folks were determined not to be added to the list on a memorial wall in Tallahassee or Washington, D.C. or get a few seconds of rememberance on America's Most Wanted (Matt and Diogi got theirs two weeks ago).

Needless to say, when they came across Freeland hiding under a fallen tree and failed to respond to their command to show both of his hands, noting shortly afterward he apparantly had a gun in one of them, they felt there was an immediate threat. End of story.

If Freeland's family is using this request for an FBI investigation toward an eventual big ticket lawsuit against the Polk County Sheriff's Office (they have obtained the services of St. Petersburg-based attorney Grady C. Irvin, Jr.), it's a shame and disgrace...especially if it is proven that he is the perpitrator.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


The Florida High School Athletic Association announced this afternoon that Lakeland High School star football player Chris Rainey has been cleared of wrongdoing following an investigation into statements he made to the Miami Herald --- which he later recanted --- saying that he accepted cash and gifts and implying they were given because of his status on the team.

The FHSAA report (.pdf version here) noted that their investigator was unable to find anyone who would either corrobrate Rainey's original statement to the Herald reporter or refute his subsequente recantation. Bill Gray, the organization's investigator, conducted interviews in three visits to Lakeland as well as by phone.

The decision means that the Dreadnaughts football team's 5A championship, it's third consecutive state title, will stand, and that Rainey can keep his amateur status. Rainey, a senior, has committed to attend the University of Florida.

Hopefully, the teenage running back learned a very valuable lesson from the experience: Don't ever put yourself into a situation which 1) even gives the appearance of improprierty, or 2) say anything --- even in jest --- that you don't mean. The attention one gets as a running back at Lakeland High School, even if it is a national champion prep football programme, is nothing compared to the defending national champion collegiate Division 1-A team. It's a whoooooole new game, young man, so keep you mind on your grades and what the coaches are teaching ya (a nice way of saying "keep you mind open and your mouth shut"). And, by the way...congratulations and good luck.


It's hard to ignore when lots of supporters are urging it, and political pundits are suggesting you're gonna do it. At some point, it'll eventually get to you, so it was no surprise that U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D - IL) announced Tuesday that he would form an exploratory committee to discover the amount of support he would have for a possible presidential campaign next year.

The excerpts of his speech I saw were well written and on target. You can read the text here.

There is no doubt that this fresh face from Chicago is an extremely intelligent individual, not afraid to sit down with all sides and discuss an issue and actually consider all arguments. And there's no doubt that he seems to be well liked and respected by numerous people across the nation; one only has to read about the rock star-type receptions the senator receives nearly anywhere he speaks.

But as today's editorial in the Chicago Tribune notes, it ain't gonna be that easy.

He will have to change the perception held by a good number of people, including many African-Americans, that a black man cannot be elected president. He will have to change the notion that a relative newcomer to national politics cannot be elected president. He will have to change the thought that it will be U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton's year to make history by being the first woman elected president.

That is a lot of change, indeed, for one man to accomplish as he begins the long quest for what the cynic Ambrose Bierce called "the greased pig" in the American political arena.

To his eternal credit, Obama has at least given himself the time.

With a full brace of campaign advisers on board and enough charisma to weather even some of the most perilous bumps, the Illinois senator now has his chance at making history.

But before the home-staters start chilling down the champagne and preparing for the big inaugural celebration, here are some names and numbers to remember from March 2002: Al Gore (26 percent), Hillary Clinton (19 percent), Tom Daschle (8 percent), Joe Lieberman (7 percent), Dick Gephardt (7 percent), John Kerry (6 percent), John Edwards (2 percent) and Howard Dean (1 percent.)

That was the lineup based on polling support for candidates two years before the 2004 presidential election.

Of course, we know at the end Kerry and Edwards --- two of the near bottom rungers in that poll --- were the Democratic standard bearers in 2004.

One of the best damn bloggers in Florida, the Miami-based Bark Bark Woof Woof, points out that the right wingers will have a harder time finding trash to attack the Illinois senator on:

They will go after his lack of experience in government and foreign policy, although they will have a little trouble doing it with a straight face given the current occupant of the Oval Office. (Mr. Obama has said he will address that issue immediately by launching his campaign in Springfield, Illinois, the home and burial site of Abraham Lincoln, who served all of two years in Congress before becoming president.) They will dig up the fact that he once used cocaine, but Mr. Obama already brought up that issue several years ago in his own book and actually uses it as a talking point for showing how a young man on the road to ruin can turn himself around. Again, he's inoculated himself against attacks by the likes of well-known vice admirals like Rush Limbaugh (although rank hypocrisy and self-inflicted irony has never stopped him before) and Bill Bennett.

Then they will play their last card and do a big build-up to ask the most irrelevant yet brow-furrowing question of all: Is America Ready for a President Obama? Ah, the open-ended question; leaving it up to the responder to define what being "ready" means: are we ready for a black man in the White House? Are we ready for a president whose middle name is Hussein and whose last name ends with a vowel?

The answer is that it's a bullshit question and the only reason they ask it is because they can't come up with anything else that doesn't sound racist, trivial or just plain stupid.

And while we're bringing up the idea of racist, trivial, or just plain stupid, it should be noted here that Senator Obama is not the only individual who announced the formation of a exploratory committee. Congressman Tom Tancredo (R - CO) says there is a void among the Republicans looking at the 2008 campaign, "being a true conservative with a conservative history". While Tancredo is likely best known for his hard-line stance on immigration, all we really need to know is that 1) he's the lawmaker who insulted the people of Miami, Florida, and the idea of the "melting pot" of diversity which makes America the great nation that she is by calling the South Florida city a "third world country", and that 2) he voted against relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina (H.R. 3673). I'm a native of South Mississippi, and had family and friends who were affected by that terrible wasn't just New Orleans and the surrounding area. It doesn't matter: A vote against assisting the people of the affected area, many of whom lost much or all of what they had, was simply an unforgivable decision. Just remember what we here went through only a couple of years ago with four hurricanes...what if a chump like this had voted against helping here? That's all one needs to know. Tancredo should crawl back in his Colorado snowbank and hibernate.

Monday, January 15, 2007


St. Petersburg Times Citrus County Editorials Editor Greg Hamilton wrote a great piece for today's edition dealing with Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite (R - Brooksville) and the fact that for the first time in her political career she is now in the minority party, and that she is changing her tune about our involvement in Iraq, at least the direction it seems to be taking. I don't usually do this, choosing to let you click on the link if you want to read the whole thing, but it's simply worth posting it all here:

You're Ginny Brown-Waite, and you are in uncharted, and uncomfortable, waters.
You awoke on Nov. 8 and, for the first time in your 16-year political career, you found yourself in the minority party.

From county commissioner in Brooksville to state senator in Tallahassee and now as a congresswoman on the world's biggest political stage, and snake pit, Washington D.C., you have always been on the winning team.

Your Republican party had the votes, and thus the clout, to do whatever it wanted.
Now, you must play nice with the other side if you want to be relevant. You have had little experience in this area over the years, and no inclination, till now, to even try.

You're Ginny Brown-Waite and somehow you have to get along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a woman whose personality rivals your own in strength and, at times, prickliness. The best you can say about your relationship is you two are civil toward each other. But for the next two years, at least, Pelosi's agenda will prevail.

Unlike many of your Republican colleagues in the House, you won your race for re-election, defeating a challenger your supporters labeled a cockroach. It was a nasty race that did nothing to improve your feelings toward Democrats in general. But, unlike some others in your party, you are being pragmatic about the turn of events. "If we were so smart," you say, "we would still be in the majority."

You're Ginny Brown-Waite and your congressional district has the largest number of military veterans in the nation. All things military, therefore, matter, from benefits for vets who served decades ago to the war in Iraq that is fracturing the country today.

You come from a family of military men, so you respect and understand the loyalty and sacrifices required of those in uniform. But you cannot blindly follow a president whose war plan has been one bloody disaster after another, whose latest grand design is opposed by more than two-thirds of Americans, who has rejected the key elements of the Iraq Study Group, a distinguished panel whose findings you have applauded as echoing your own sentiments.

You see how many Republicans lost their seats in the House and Senate in November in the antiwar backlash. You hear your own party leaders ripping the president in terms that are even stronger than those being used by Democrats. You hear a nation calling for troop withdrawal and you see a president ordering escalation. You wonder whether this "surge" is all about "beefing up the presidential legacy."

So, you call the president's plan "troubling, with many questions left unanswered."

You want more specifics about the role of American troops in relation to the Iraqi forces during this upcoming push. You want Iraqis, not Americans, kicking in the doors of Baghdad. If the Iraqis falter, you want them to face the toughest consequences: immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces and the loss of the billions of dollars in reconstruction money that flow each week from the American taxpayer to the black hole of Iraq.

You temper that tough stance, though, noting that the Constitution "does not provide for 535 commanders in chief." You want full briefings and congressional oversight on the war. On that point, you can rest assured you will get your wish. With the Democrats in charge, the days of the legislative branch giving the administration a blank check on all aspects of the war are over.

You vow not to join those in Congress who would try to force the president to abandon this surge operation by voting to cut the funds he needs to carry out this latest adventure. "I cannot in good conscience vote to deprive our soldiers of critical resources while they are in combat," you say, adding, "We all want our soldiers to come home safely and as soon as possible. You have my commitment that I will do everything in my power to ensure that this happens."

You stop short, however, of saying exactly how you plan on accomplishing this goal.

You are Ginny Brown-Waite, and you have famously said people cannot oppose the war while saying they support the troops. You have said, "The war in Iraq is a war of which every American can and should be proud." You now say that you have reservations and questions about the president's latest plans for furthering the war. Not quite the same as outright opposition, perhaps, but hardly full-throated support.

You back the troops while having doubts about how the war is being run. It's a position you once scorned but you now share with an overwhelming number of Americans as demonstrated in the past election and by polls after the president's speech this week.

You're Ginny Brown-Waite, and, in this area at least, you are standing with the majority.

Ms. Brown-Waite's change of direction, as well as comments by Congressman Adam Putnam (R - Bartow) seemingly backing away from his previous hearty support for the Iraqi operation, was not lost on Lakeland Ledger political columnist Bill Rufty today:

The most surprising was Putnam's statement that he was only "somewhat reassured" by the current President Bush's statement on the war last week.

The most heart-wrenching was that of Brown-Waite, who regularly visits the wounded while in Washington, saying she didn't want to attend another funeral or take another trip through the spinal cord unit.

There will be the usual protestations from their staffs that we didn't understand that the congressman or congresswoman has always had reservations or that they are not really pulling away, just re-examining the situation in light of blah, blah, blah.

They changed their stands, folks.

But that is not necessarily bad or wrong. People must adjust to changing circumstances - a point often lost to ideologues of both the left and right, who would rather go down in flames than deal with reality...

Edward de Bono, a philosopher and psychologist known for his investigations of how people think and make decisions, once said "If you never change your mind, why have one?"


There's an interesting story in today's Lakeland Ledger featuring two high schoolers who make significant sacrifices when compared to their counterparts to get the type of education they want.

The story is part of the Ledger's current series on the Polk County School District's use of various practices to maintain a diverse student population, including spot zoning, busing, and the use of magnet schools and schools of choice.

The two students which are the focus of the piece live in the southeast corner of Polk, one in Frostproof and the other in nearby Babson Park. They attend the Harrison School for the Visual and Performing Arts across the county in Lakeland. That means that one has to be up before 4:00 AM, the other just before 5:00 to prepare for the day. They catch the first of three buses they need to get to Lakeland...Frostproof to Lake Wales, to Winter Haven, to Lakeland. You're talking nearly 50 miles, one way, five days a week.

And these two kids wouldn't have it any other way.

There are others at Harrison and the county's two International Baccalaureate schools in Bartow and Haines City that log long distances, but these two are believed to travel the longest distances each day.


Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: - 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968)
from his "I Have A Dream" speech at the March on Washington August 28, 1963

The Dream lives on...

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Let's begin our tour this week on the east (or should I say, northeast) end of I-4 at the Daytona Beach News Journal. Last Sunday, the paper chose it's agenda of local issues for 2007, and today it begins looking at them in detail. Today, the subject is lack of insurance and inadequete health care for Volusia and Flagler county residents.

The Orlando Sentinel editorial this morning states it's continued concerns with the operations of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, saying that putting developers and land attorneys on the agency board is like "putting a lamb in a cage with a lion", and that it becomes more obvious that Governor Charlie Crist should appoint board members far removed from the area's development interests.

Tomorrow is the holiday celebrating the birthday of the late civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Lakeland Ledger editorial space notes a move to promote the concept of the King holiday as a National Day of Service, which was established 13 years ago by legislation co-sponsored by then-Senator Harris Wofford (D - PA) and Congressman John Lewis (D - GA).

The state's insurance crisis is featured on many newspaper front pages today as Governor Crist and the Legislature will deal with the issue this week in special session. The subject is featured today on the editorial page of the Tampa Tribune. You can tell whose side they are on just by reading two sentences: "it seems a sure bet that a majority of lawmakers will sidestep talk of free markets and back state government's assumption of risk to give property owners relief from skyrocketing premiums...What the Legislature is about to do may provide relief to policyholders, but it is a rebuke of long-held principles that may not serve the state's long-term economic interests."

Across the bay, the St. Petersburg Times rebukes Tampa Electric Company for how it treated residents of the Egypt Lake neighbourhood north of downtown Tampa after putting up 12 story concrete power poles along a two lane residential street, crowding out lawns. But instead of moving the poles to a nearby commercial corridor TECO decided to keep them in place and got a financial settlement.

Y'all make a great Sunday today!