Sunday, October 31, 2010

Flush em down the drain

I did not take these pictures, but these were the signs on the porta-potties at a Tea Party event in Middleburg, Fla., on Oct. 30:

Bill Clinton’s role in Florida Senate race seems
to cost Democrat some black votes

From Damien Cave of The New York Times on Oct. 29:
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Former President Bill Clinton's political bank shot appears to have hit its mark with many black Democrats who were lined up at the polls here Friday.

They were not voting for the Democratic congressman and neighbor they had long supported — Representative Kendrick B. Meek — but rather for Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican who is running for the Senate as an independent.

Many of them, like Kevin Roberson, a postal worker from Miami, said they admired Mr. Meek. But when they heard that the former president had talked to Mr. Meek about dropping out to keep the Republican, Marco Rubio, from winning, they said it was time to be practical.

“A vote for Meek is a wasted vote,” Mr. Roberson said as he waited to cast his ballot.

Others agreed. “I would like for him to win, but you know what? He’s behind,” said Betty Chambers, a hospital secretary. “And if Rubio wins, we’re in trouble.”

Strategists from both parties disagree on the likely impact of Mr. Clinton’s effort to single-handedly reshape one of the most closely watched races in the country by giving Democrats permission to sacrifice one of their own.

About a third of Florida’s likely voters have already cast ballots. Mr. Meek has also insisted that he will stay in the race, and Mr. Rubio’s campaign has emphasized that it has a commanding lead in most polls, including a new Mason-Dixon poll released Friday.

But with some polls swinging sharply in recent days — though Mr. Meek has remained a distant third — some Democrats believe that the vote of no-confidence by Mr. Clinton may be enough to alter the outcome.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

An important message from Obama

Friday, October 29, 2010

Big government, higher taxes intro on Hannity

This was the intro on The Sean Hannity Show on Oct. 28:

From ScottForFlorida on Oct. 29:

You know the future that we're planning right now may be no future at all.

Action Alert: Election Night Watch Party

Click to enlarge.

What: Election Night Watch Party.
When: Nov. 2 from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Where: Duffy's Sports Grill, 11588 U.S. Highway #1, North Palm Beach.
For more information: Call (561) 686-1616.

Scott, Sink education plans differ greatly

From Dave Weber of the Orlando Sentinel on Oct. 29:
The direction of public education in Florida could hinge on Tuesday's election of a new governor, who will have wide influence on decisions affecting the schools.

Republican Rick Scott wants to continue former Gov. Jeb Bush's reforms and kick them up a notch.

Democrat Alex Sink says continued improvements to schools are needed, but it is time to reconsider how they should be made.

Unlike some past campaigns, education issues have played a small role in this year's race despite the power over the schools that the governor wields.

The governor appoints members of the state Board of Education who, along with an appointed commissioner, steer education. The governor can trump efforts by the Legislature to direct the schools by vetoing its proposals. And even legislation that becomes law is open to wide interpretation by the state board and commissioner who are under the governor's wing.

Although the topic has been low key, Scott and Sink each have detailed education platforms worked up in part by their closest allies on the issue.

For Scott that was former Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, which lobbies for education reforms. The Florida Education Association, the teachers' union, had input on Sink's platform.

From the FEA's perspective, Sink's strength is her plan to involve teachers, school administrators and parents in determining such issues as merit pay plans for teachers. Many recent education reform efforts such as merit pay have been too top down and left out those most affected, said Mark Pudlow, FEA spokesman.

"It has got to be a merit pay plan that teachers can buy into and understand, and can't be based on a sole test," Pudlow said.

Pudlow said Sink also is dedicated to maintaining a public school system amid pushes to have private, charter and virtual schools replace public classrooms.

Conversely, Scott wants to ramp up more school choice options for parents, including charters. He raised some eyebrows among his backers worried that his plan to end corporate income taxes would kill funding for the Tax Credit Scholarships that allowed 32,000 low income children to go to private schools this fall.

But officials with the Foundation for Florida's Future say they have been assured that Scott will find another way to fund the scholarships.

"Rick Scott's plan to provide parents with choice and to expand virtual and online education is very good for Florida," said Patricia Levesque, executive director of the foundation.

Here are the highlights of each candidate's education platform:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Action Alert: BBQ with Rick Scott, Jennifer Carroll

Click to enlarge.

What: BBQ luncheon on Rick Scott's Clear Choice Bus Tour.
When: Nov. 1 at 12:15 p.m.
Where: Park Avenue BBQ & Grille, 2215 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach.
For more information: Contact Beth Kigel at (561) 373-3208.

Video ad: Tea Party leaders support Rick Scott

From ScottForFlorida on Oct. 26:

We support Rick Scott, and we ask you to do the same.

Action Alert: Download voter fraud app

From American Majority Action:
Just in time for Election Day, American Majority Action has created the nation’s first mobile application to help identify, report and track suspected incidents of voter fraud and intimidation. This free, cutting edge system will enable voters to take action to help defend their right to vote. Whether you’re a campaign junkie, or just want a better America, Voter Fraud will help you report violations at the election booth and serve to uphold the democratic process.

By capitalizing on this Country's greatest resource, its citizens, American Majority Action plans to empower ordinary Americans with the tools to help protect our electoral system. With the eyes on the nation on the polls, the app, which launches today, could be what some activist circles are calling the "game-changer."

Voters can download the free application at The platform is already available for iPhones, the Droid, and Blackberry. In addition, users can submit reports directly from the website and even track reports on an interactive map.

Visit the Voter Fraud App website for more details and additional resources!

Action Alert: Marco Rubio
at Road to Reclaim America Bus Tour

Click to enlarge.

What: Road to Reclaim America Bus Tour with Marco Rubio.
When: Oct. 29 at 8:45 a.m.
Where: The Original Pancake House, 4363 Northlake Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens.
For more information: Contact

Bill Clinton pushed Kendrick Meek
to quit Florida race

From Ben Smith of Politico on Oct. 28:
Bill Clinton sought to persuade Rep. Kendrick Meek to drop out of the race for Senate during a trip to Florida last week — and nearly succeeded.

Meek agreed — twice — to drop out and endorse Gov. Charlie Crist's independent bid in a last-ditch effort to stop Marco Rubio, the Republican nominee who stands on the cusp of national stardom.

Meek, a staunch Clinton ally from Miami, has failed to broaden his appeal around the state and is mired in third place in most public polls, with a survey today showing him with just 15 percent of the vote. His withdrawal, polls suggest, would throw core Democratic voters to the moderate governor, rocking a complicated three-way contest and likely throwing the election to Crist.

The former president’s top aide, Doug Band, initially served as the intermediary between Meek and Crist, and Clinton became involved only when Meek signaled that he would seriously consider the option, Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna confirmed to POLITICO.

“The argument was: ‘You can be a hero here. You can stop him, you can change this race in one swoop,’” said another Democrat familiar with the conversations, who said Clinton had bluntly told Meek that he couldn’t win the race.

Crist also confirmed the planned scenario Thursday night, telling MSNBC's Keith Olbermann: "I had numerous phone calls with people very close to President Clinton."

In a press conference, Meek issued a calibrated denial, taking issue with the statements by Crist and Clinton's spokesman.

"Any rumor or any statement from anyone that says I made a decision to get out of the race is inaccurate at best," Meek said. "There was never a deal."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

John McCain accused of violating
McCain-Feingold campaign finance law

From Dan Eggen of The Washington Post on Oct. 20:
The irony is hard to miss: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a co-architect of one of the most sweeping campaign finance laws in U.S. history, was accused by Democrats on Wednesday of violating that very statute.

But the McCain campaign called the allegations a baseless stunt, saying the Democrats don't have their facts straight.

In a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee alleged that television ads in support of two House candidates from Arizona violate the tenets of the McCain-Feingold law, the landmark legislation enacted in 2002 that put broad limits on the campaign finance system.

In the ads, paid for by the Friends of John McCain campaign committee, McCain appears alongside Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) urging voters to support GOP candidates Ruth McClung and Jesse Kelly. The DCCC says the ads amount to an illegal "in kind" contribution over the limits in McCain-Feingold.

"John McCain chose to air television commercials that violate the campaign finance legislation that bears his name, rejecting McCain's years of work on campaign finance reform," said DCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Crider.

The McCain campaign flatly rejected the allegations, releasing documents showing that it reported the ads as "independent expenditures" to the Senate this week. The DCCC complaint suggested that the campaign had not taken that step.

"It's not surprising that Democrats would try to change the subject from their struggling ticket with a baseless, frivolous complaint intended as a publicity stunt," said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers. "Sen. McCain has always followed the letter and the spirit of the campaign finance law."

NPR axes, Fox defends Williams over Muslim remarks

From Brett Zongker of the Associated Press on Oct. 21:
WASHINGTON – "I'm not a bigot," longtime news analyst Juan Williams said. Then he talked about getting nervous on a plane when he sees people in Muslim dress. Fair game for one of his employers, Fox News Channel, but a fireable offense for the other, NPR.

Muslim groups were outraged, saying that Williams' remarks Monday on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor" endorsed the idea that all Muslims should be viewed with suspicion. But conservatives and even some liberals said NPR went too far in axing his contract for being honest about his feelings in an interview where he also said it is important to distinguish moderate Muslims from extremists.

The opinions Williams expressed on Fox News over the years had already strained his relationship with NPR to the point that the public radio network asked him to stop using the NPR name when he appeared on Bill O'Reilly's show. NPR CEO Vivian Schiller said Thursday that Williams had veered from journalistic ethics several times before Monday's comments.

Controversial opinions should not come from NPR reporters or news analysts, Schiller said, adding that Williams was not a commentator or columnist for NPR.

Schiller said whatever feelings Williams has about Muslims should be between him and "his psychiatrist or his publicist — take your pick." In a post later on NPR's website — where comments were heavily against Williams' firing — she apologized for making the "thoughtless" psychiatrist remark.

On his Thursday broadcast, O'Reilly blasted NPR for what he called "a disgraceful decision" and called on Schiller to resign.

"Ms. Schiller is a pinhead," said O'Reilly.

NPR had no comment on what was said on the show, said spokeswoman Anna Christopher.

O'Reilly said Williams was merely describing how he felt, and that "millions of Americans feel the same way."

Williams appeared shaken during an appearance on the show, and when shown Schiller's videotaped comments about him talking to a psychiatrist, asked incredulously: "Now I'm mentally unstable?"

He and O'Reilly both said they believed Williams was fired from NPR because of his association with Fox.

"You know what? I didn't fit into their box," he said.

Action Alert: Jobs Here, Jobs Now rally
with Newt Gingrich, Mike Gallagher

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and radio host Mike Gallagher will speak about election decisions at a free rally in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 28.

The rally is a stop in the 12-state Jobs Here, Jobs Now tour, part of American Solutions' Power of 10 campaign. The tour is intended to "inform thousands of voters about the job creators we need to elect this November," according to a press release.

The Jacksonville rally will take place at 11 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency. The event is free, although registration is required to receive a ticket.

What: Jobs Here, Jobs Now tour rally.
When: Oct. 28 from 11 a.m. to noon.
Where: Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency, 225 East Coastline Drive, Jacksonville.
For more information: Click here.

Obama's approval rating at new low
in most recent quarter

From Jeffrey M. Jones of Gallup on Oct. 21:
PRINCETON, NJ -- Barack Obama averaged 44.7% job approval during the seventh quarter of his presidency. His average approval rating has declined each quarter since he took office, falling by more than two percentage points in the most recent quarter to establish a new low.


These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking surveys conducted from July 20-Oct. 19, including interviews with more than 90,000 Americans. The seventh quarter included Obama's new low of three-day average approval rating of 41% in mid-August. His approval rating has recovered somewhat since then, with his latest three-day average at 46% for Oct. 17-19 interviewing.

Obama's seventh-quarter average ranks on the low end of comparable averages among the nine presidents since Eisenhower, although it is similar to that of several of the more recently elected presidents, including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.


Obama's decreased popularity is also evident in his favorable rating, updated in an Oct. 14-17 Gallup poll. For the first time, more Americans view the president unfavorably (50%) than favorably (47%), and his favorable rating is the lowest of his presidency.


His all-time low favorable rating of 42% came in Gallup's initial measurement of Obama in December

Read more.

Action Alert: early voting in Palm Beach County

Early voting has begun in Palm Beach County. Cast your ballot today at one of the locations below.
What: Early voting in Palm Beach County.
When: From Oct. 18 to Oct. 31, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends.
Where: See locations above.
For more information: Click here, or call the Supervisor of Elections Office at (561) 656-6200.

Fannie, Freddie bailout cost is likely to rise
to $154 billion, agency projects

From Zachary Goldfarb of The Washington Post on Oct. 21:
The bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is likely to cost taxpayers an additional $19 billion and may cost as much as $124 billion more if the economy starts shrinking again, according to a government projection released Thursday.

The rescue of the mortgage giants, which have helped keep the housing market alive amid economic crisis and recession, already has a price tag of $135 billion. The money went to cover losses on defaulted home loans.

The ballooning price of the Fannie and Freddie bailout comes as the Obama administration celebrates news of lower costs on other financial rescues. Administration officials are also preparing to release a plan for reforming the two companies in coming months.

In its projection Thursday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency sought to indicate how much more money the companies may need in the next three years under different economic scenarios.

In the most likely, as defined by the agency, which regulates the two companies, housing prices would decline slightly amid a modest economic recovery, and then inch upward. In this scenario, the total bailout of Fannie and Freddie would cost $19 billion more, or $154 billion.

A more optimistic projection has the housing market springing back to life sooner. In this case, the companies would need just $6 billion more, or $141 billion.

Finally, in a darker scenario, in which housing goes into another tailspin amid a second recession, they would cost $124 billion more, or $259 billion.

Action Alert: reception for Allen West

Show your support at a reception in Palm Beach Gardens honoring Allen West for Congress on Oct. 26.

Attire is business casual. The maximum individual contribution is $2,400.

What: Reception honoring Allen West for Congress.
When: Oct. 26 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Grand Ballroom at Frenchman's Reserve, 3370 Grande Corniche, Palm Beach Gardens.
For more information: Contact Catherine Faulkner at (877) 906-2010.

In Seattle, Obama tells party faithful:
'We need you fired up'

This gets me fired up ...

SEATTLE - President Obama swooped into this traditionally Democratic corner of the country Thursday to implore the party faithful to rekindle the enthusiasm they felt in 2008 and help propel a senator locked in a surprisingly close reelection contest.

"We need you fired up," Obama told a packed crowd inside a basketball arena here at the University of Washington to rally for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). He added: "We are grinding it out. We are doing the hard, frustrating, inch-by-inch, day-by-day, week-by-week work of bringing about change."

Obama sounded familiar themes in his Seattle speech, trumpeting what his administration and congressional Democrats did to stave off an economic depression and warning that if Republicans win control of Congress, they would return to the same economic policies that led the nation into a recession.

"They figured if they just sat on the sidelines and opposed us every step of the way, then eventually they could ride that anger and that frustration to success in this election," Obama said. "In other words, they were betting on amnesia. They were betting on the idea that you'd forget who caused this mess in the first place. Now let me tell you, Seattle: It's up to you to tell them you haven't forgotten."

West winning wild CD 22 race, poll shows

From Kenric Ward of Sunshine State News on Oct. 21:
Republican Allen West narrowly leads U.S. Rep. Ron Klein in a bruising battle for South Florida's 22nd Congressional District, a new Sunshine State News Poll shows.

West leads Klein 47-44 in the survey of likely voters conducted Oct. 17-19. Nine percent of respondents are undecided.

West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, lost by 10 points to Klein in 2008, a strong year for Democrats. But with Republicans surging this fall, West is picking up more independents, along with solid tea party support.

"West has to be the slight favorite here simply because of the turnout differential," said Jim Lee, president of Voter Survey Service, which conducted the poll for Sunshine State News.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Federal retirees' groups press for
onetime boost to benefits

From Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post on Oct. 20:
Gary Faley, a retired freight yard clerk in Flint, Mich., paid attention the other day when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she will schedule a vote in November on a plan to give an extra $250 to retirees who will not receive a cost-of-living increase in their benefit checks next year.

Faley, legislative director of an association that advocates for the nation's 600,000 retired railroad workers, immediately sent out an alert asking members to phone a toll-free number and urge their congressional representatives to support the bill.

"My members will let them know we are out there watching them," said Faley, 62, of the National Association of Retired and Veteran Railways Employees.

Retirees from the nation's railroads are one of several constituencies that are affected by an announcement by the Labor Department late last week that consumer prices have gone up too little to warrant a cost-of-living increase in retirement benefits for 2011.

It will be the second year in a row that benefits have not risen. The consecutive years without an increase are unprecedented since the mid-1970s, when the government began to adjust such payments automatically, based on the inflation rate.

The largest group of people touched by the freeze are the nearly 54 million retired and other Americans who receive monthly Social Security checks. But the same formula that determines whether Social Security payments go up has ripple effects, affecting benefits for retired federal workers and for retired and disabled veterans, as well as former railroad workers.

Kendrick Meek debate protesters in Orlando, Fla.

I'll let them do the talking.

From TheFranklincenter on Oct. 6:

... what? Something about social security, health care, Obama ...
and "he's all about the children."

Rasmussen: Scott now leads Sink in Fla. gov. race

From on Oct. 20:
Republican Rick Scott now leads Democrat Alex Sink by 6 points in the race to be Florida’s next governor. It’s the widest gap between the candidates in six months of polling.

The Oct. 18 Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of 750 likely voters in Florida shows Scott with 50 percent support for the second survey in a row. Sink, the state’s elected chief financial officer, earns 44 percent of the vote. Six percent prefer some other candidate in the race.

This moves the race from a tossup to leans Republican in the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Gubernatorial Scorecard.

15 days left: Rick Scott announces bus tour

From Lane Wright of Sunshine State News on Oct. 21:
Rick Scott and Jennifer Carroll will be blitzing the state, hitting more than a dozen cities in the final days before the election.

The Scott campaign just announced a bus tour that will begin just before the final week leading up to Nov. 2.

During the six-day tour across Florida, Scott will be joined by his wife Ann, his daughters and mother, Esther. Nominee for lieutenant governor, Rep. Jennifer Carroll, will be participating on various legs of the trip.

Say goodbye to traditional free checking

From Pallavi Gogoi of the Associated Press on Oct. 19:
NEW YORK (AP) -- Free checking as we know it is ending.

The days when you could walk into a bank branch and open an account with no charges and no strings attached appear to be over. Now you have to jump through some hoops -- keep a high balance, use direct deposit or swipe your debit card several times a month.

One new account at Bank of America charges $8.95 per month if you want to bank with a teller or get a paper statement.

Almost all of the largest U.S. banks are either already making free checking much more difficult to get or expected to do so soon, with fees on even basic banking services.

It's happening because a raft of new laws enacted in the past year, including the financial overhaul package, have led to an acute shrinking of revenue for the banks. So they are scraping together money however they can.

Bank of America, which does business with half the households in America, announced a dramatic shift Tuesday in how it does business with customers. One key change: Free checking, a mainstay of American banking in recent years, will be nearly unheard of.

"I've seen more regulation in last 30 months than in last 30 years," said Robert Hammer, CEO of RK Hammer, a bank advisory firm. "The bottom line for banks is shifting enormously, swiftly and deeply, and they're not going to sit by twiddling their thumbs. They're going to change."

Header PS Brush by