"Get him, Barack!"
"With 10,000 supporters cheering him on at a downtown park -- and 6,000 more straining at the fences outside -- Barack Obama electrified supporters Saturday with stinging attacks on his Republican rival and promises of better times to come." "Obama enthralls Fla. crowd". See also "Obama draws throng in Jacksonville", "Obama gets big welcome in Jacksonville" and "Obama 'every' man to adoring crowd".
Obama "wrapped up a two-day sweep through Florida by repeatedly bashing John McCain at a rally [in Jax] Saturday":
His message in the solidly conservative city was clear: strike at McCain on economic issues. "We can't steer ourselves out of this crisis with a driver who wants to go the same way — into the ditch," Obama said, linking McCain to the Bush administration.Obama "is already preparing for a quick return."
He urged the crowd not to be "hoodwinked" and "bamboozled" by the barrage of TV ads his rival is airing. Many cheered — "Get him, Barack!" one woman yelled.
Obama said McCain's solution to the crisis was to blame his opponent. (McCain has two ads closely linking Obama to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are at the heart of the mortgage meltdown.)
He is expected to arrive in Pinellas County as early as Tuesday, to prep for Friday's debate against Sen. McCain at the University of Mississippi."Obama on the attack in Florida". See also "Obama unites Jacksonville supporters" and "Obama to head south to prepare for debates".
Sequestering himself in Florida is a tactical decision, affording Obama privacy as well as media exposure in the battleground state where a new St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll shows a dead heat.
Campaign officials confirmed the visit but would not say where Obama will stay or whether he would hold a public event. His strategy follows the lead of Al Gore, who went to Longboat Key in 2000 to cram for his debate with George W. Bush.
On Saturday, Obama's outdoor rally drew more than 12,000 people — not including thousands forced to watch from outside the fence at Metropolitan Park.
"Four little words ..."
"Four little words are generating a lot of noise in Florida. It's another sign of how high the stakes are this election year."
The words: "No match, no vote.""Having lost in court, the advocacy groups fault Secretary of State Kurt Browning for insisting the law be enforced less than two months before the election — too late to work out the bugs, his critics contend."
They refer to a state law requiring that to register to vote, a person's driver's license number or last four digits of a Social Security number must match numbers in a government database. The requirement took effect Sept. 8.
If there's no match, a county election supervisor must notify the would-be voter, who must rectify the problem by providing proof in person, by mail, fax or e-mail of a matching number. If proof is still lacking, the voter can cast a provisional ballot and has until two days after the election to clarify things.
Some matches fail because of typographical errors by clerks, or illegible handwriting by a would-be voter. The state insists it catches most of those by comparing the database with the scanned copy of the application form.
The Legislature passed the requirement in 2005. Most Republicans voted yes and nearly all 43 opponents were Democrats, the first sign that the exact-match rule was seen as a partisan act that could help Republicans and hurt Democrats.
The NAACP, Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition and others sued to strike down "no match, no vote" in 2007. They claimed poor and minority voters would be most affected.
The League of Women Voters notes that some African-Americans use nontraditional spellings of first names and some Hispanics use paternal and maternal last names.
They lost their lawsuit when U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle refused to grant an injunction in June. Citing past absentee ballot fraud in Florida, the judge said the law "is justified by the state's compelling interest in fair and honest elections."
Mickle noted that over a 21-month period, the numbers matched in 98 percent of 1.5-million voter registration forms. Critics would argue a 2 percent no-match rate — about 31,000 — is plenty of disenfranchisement in a state where 537 votes once decided the presidency.
Common Cause issued a study on election laws in 10 swing states this week. The author faulted Florida's exact-match standard and said it amounts to vote suppression."2 percent of Florida's vote can spark a battle". The Miami Herald editorial board adds this: "ID-match law unfair, undermines voting"
Expect "another presidential cliff-hanger in Florida".
"Deep worries about the economy are setting the stage for another presidential cliff-hanger in Florida." "Florida race still too close to call".
The Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll (conducted Sept. 14-17 by telephone survey with 800 registered Florida voters. Sampling error plus or minus 3.5 percent) has McCain at 47 percent, and Obama at 45 percent.
Strengthening the economy was cited as the top priority at least three times more often than any other issue, and 49 percent of voters trusted Obama more to improve the economy, compared to 40 percent for McCain. Among independent voters, 53 percent trusted Obama more on the economy, to just 30 percent for McCain.More:
- "59 percent support oil drilling closer than 125 miles from the Florida coast."Similarly, a Florida Times-Union/South Florida Sun Sentinel poll, conducted Sept. 15-18 by telephone survey of 600 likely Florida voters (with a "sampling error" of plus or minus 4 percent has McCain at 46 percent, Barack Obama 45 percent.
- "53 percent give Gov. Charlie Crist a favorable job rating, down from 57 percent in a January poll."
- "51 percent say Florida is headed in the wrong direction"
A third of voters rated the economy and jobs as the most important issue, followed by oil/gas/energy prices and health care. About 46 percent said they put more trust in Obama to deal with the economy, while 38 percent put more trust in McCain. Sixteen percent were undecided. Women favored Obama over McCain 48 percent to 41 percent; men favored McCain over Obama 51 percent to 42 percent.More: "Herald's Florida poll: McCain 47%; Obama 45%" and "Florida polls show McCain, Obama nearly tied".
The latter poll has Obama trailing McCain among self-proclaimed "whites" by a 53 to 38% margin.
"A new statewide poll of Florida voters finds Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain helped themselves with their vice presidential picks — but not enough to give either candidate a significant bump over the other." "VP choices didn't break the tie".
"A proposal to ban gay marriage in the Florida Constitution is within striking distance of success, according to a new poll. ... The new poll comes as proponents launched an aggressive campaign to spread the word through church congregations." "Gay marriage ban is drawing closer". See also "Undecided voters key to gay marriage ban".
Orlando Sentinel favorite son John Mica, former Chief of Staff for Senator Paula Hawkins, must be pleased.
"Florida State University's Board of Trustees voted Friday to give out-of-state students a break in fees in an attempt to improve its student mix and raise revenue." "FSU to give out-of-state students a break on tuition".
The best they could do
"Sarah Palin will be on friendly territory Sunday during a rally at a heavily Republican seniors' community." This explains it ...
There are 661 holes of golf in The Villages -- a Central Florida retirement community of 70,000 ..."Seniors at The Villages set to welcome Palin". See also "Palin takes campaign to Fla. retirement community".
"Obama reaches out to women in Florida campaign swing" "S. Fla. women welcome Barack Obama at Coral Gables rally".
"Mario Diaz-Balart says his rival should return donation".
Socializing the risk
A few weeks ago, Mike Thomas wrote about a development on Lake Apopka called Bella Collina.
It sprouted during the housing bubble. Speculators paid a half-million for lots on Florida's nastiest, most alligator-infested lake, then flipped them a year later to more speculators for more than a million dollars."Who wants to go back to 1929? Keep on bailin'".
Realizing there are no more suckers on this pyramid, the second set of speculators is defaulting. And the banks are taking the lots back.
Now let's do the math: The developer made money selling the lots. The first buyers made a lot of money reselling them. The second set of buyers lost several thousand dollars.
And now the banks have massive holes in their asset sheets.
As punishment for its incompetence, they now will be allowed to sell those lots to you so they can go on about the business of lending money, perhaps to people who will buy the lots from Uncle Sam.
Given that Florida was a national leader in speculation and fraud, look for our state to become the new Nevada as far as the percent of property owned by the federal government. Maybe Bella Collina could be converted into a bombing range.
The ad that never was
Randy Schultz discusses the Post's political ad last week, that "wasn't labeled as an ad for John McCain." "The secret cell helping McCain".
From the "values" crowd
"Just as a crumbling economy brings about more depression, substance abuse and other mental-health problems, budget cuts are forcing mental-health providers to scale back their services." "Mental health care dollars dwindle".
On a related issue: "Medicaid recipients across Florida accuse the state of illegally forcing them to live in nursing homes." You see,
Obtaining Medicaid-supported services at home is substantially harder than getting placed in a nursing home and often involves a long waiting list, even though it may actually cost less."Fla. Medicaid recipients want out of nursing homes".
Advocates charge that nursing homes have successfully pressured politicians to make qualifying for community care more difficult. The defendants claim the plaintiffs want the courts "to second-guess" the way Florida has chosen to make services available in light of the state's available resources.
Jac Wilder VerSteeg: spends some time with an unusual candidate: "John McCain says 'the American people' will be his bosses, not special interests. It's a good line. Of course, there's no way beyond the abstract that the president can work for "the people" because 'the people' don't agree on what the president should do. 'The people' couldn't meet with President McCain every morning to give him his marching orders. Maybe a more local candidate could work for 'the people.' That's the plan of John J. Sottilare, an independent candidate for the Florida House 86 seat held by Democrat Maria Sachs." "'People' vote, but they don't rule".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "This amendment does more than just target homosexual unions. It puts all manner of domestic partnerships at a possible disadvantage. For example, after a similar measure passed in Michigan in 2004, the state's Supreme Court ruled that public institutions could no longer offer health and other benefits to domestic partners of the same sex. Many institutions found a way around the ruling, but why put people in Florida at risk? Besides, state law already restricts marriage to a man and a woman, and Florida doesn't recognize gay unions performed in other states. This measure seems more like a cynical attempt to bring out the conservative base in a presidential election year." "What we think about Florida's amendments".
The rich are different
a top adviser and campaigner for John McCain who was ousted as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard in 2005? Though stock dropped 50 percent under her tenure, many news reports — and an unsuccessful shareholder suit alleging that directors neglected to get shareholder approval — said she walked away with $21-million in severance and $21-million more in stock options and pension benefits. ... "That's inaccurate. My severance package was around $11-million, but that's still an incredible amount of money," Fiorina said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9."McCain economic adviser explains".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "It sounded like highway robbery. A critical piece of land needed to extend a highway around Orlando had been appraised at $25-million and $28-million. In typical government fashion, state officials and the local expressway authority had agreed on a price of more than $37-million. All the governor and Cabinet had to do last week was follow the staff recommendation and approve it. Gov. Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink refused." "Standing up for the taxpayer".
Daniel Ruth's column ...
... this morning includes his musings on "morons" "Can Jim Norman Sense The Annoyance Over His Courage Award Idea?".
Ironically, public libraries in many parts of the country are in crisis at a time when they are more popular than ever. According to the American Library Association, visits to public libraries increased 61 percent from 1994 to 2004, and the numbers have continued to rise."Cuts undermine 'house of wisdom'".
So what's the future of public libraries? No one has the definitive answer, but one thing is for sure: If the economy continues to tank over time, forcing municipalities to further trim their budgets, the value and accessibility of this grand old institution will diminish in ways we can't imagine.
"The most money for the least gambling"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "There's no way to revoke all high-stakes gambling and to keep it out of tribal casinos. The new goal should be to have as little gambling as possible. At this point, a legislatively approved agreement with the Seminoles - ideally giving Florida a bigger cut - is the best way for the state to get the most money for the least gambling." "Restrict new gambling to new Seminole deal".