[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Notre Dame and President Obama

(Reader Warning: This blog post contains FOX News content that may be offensive to some sensitive individuals, particular those who suffer from BDS, FDS or other related conditions)

Check out this very interesting debate between Father Jonathan Morris of Notre Dame University and Notre Dame graduate Phil Donahue (yes, that Phil Donahue) on the controversy surrounding the Catholic institution's invitation of President Obama to speak at their commencement ceremony in May, as well as award him an honorary law degree.

What's my take on this? Abortion is one of those issues that I draw a firm line on. The Catholic Church feels the same way. Anyone who supports abortion - whether passively or aggressively - is in direct conflict with one of the Church's main tenants. That's where Father Morris and others draw the line with Obama on, and they have some valid points from a religious and secular point of view. Phil Donahue, the reformist, never answered the abortion question directly. After all, if he did he would be exposed as being in firm opposition to the Catholic Church even as he expresses a desire to bring the Catholic Church to the 21st Century by becoming, well, less Catholic.

What about capital punishment, you may ask? Good question. After all, Notre Dame has invited past presidents who have been in favor of capital punishment without nearly as much controversy. Is there a double standard? Perhaps. Isn't this also in direct conflict with the Catholic Church's teachings? Yes, and maybe. As the previous link shows, the Catholic Church does open the door for capital punishment in cases of "extreme gravity". Of course, most pro-death penalty folks don't place their line in the same place the Church does. I also believe the Catholic Church understands (even if it's not explicitly stated) that a moral equivalence should not always be applied between the killing of an innocent human in the womb and the killing of a violent murderer. Whether that's a double standard or not is up to the individual to decide, but nevertheless it's an important distinction to make.

In the end, Notre Dame has put themselves in a tough situation to squeeze out of without backlash from all sides. I respect the view of Father Morris and others, while recognizing that the university is attempting to apply a consistent pattern of inviting sitting presidents to their commencement ceremonies, despite those presidents' views which haven't always jived with Catholic teaching.

No. 33

Photo by Joe Rimkus, Jr./AP

Few people outside of my family make me swell with pride as much as Alonzo Mourning does. His intensity and all-out effort on the court for his team, his super-human courage in dealing with a life-threatening disease, coming back and literally winning the decisive Game 6 of the NBA Finals for the Miami Heat in 2006. That was his last glorious stand on the NBA hardwood.

As Greg Cote writes in today's Herald, Zo's greatest accomplishments have and will be off the court. Few athletes citizens give back so much to their adopted community the way Alonzo Mourning and his family have. As much as his basketball exploits have stood out during his career, it's this aspect of Mourning that makes me swell with pride today as a Miamian, and every time I hear his name. The Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde provides additional supporting documentation here.

Congrats, Zo. It is long deserved.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Limbaugh Challenge

Via Paul Ibrahim comes this "challenge" from a LA Times column for liberals to - you know - actually tune in to Rush Limbaugh's show.
I listen to Limbaugh every chance I get, and I have never heard the man utter a single racist, hateful or stupid word. Do I always agree with him? Of course not. I'm a conservative; I think for myself. But Limbaugh, by turns insightful, satiric, raucously funny and wise, is one of the best voices talking about first principles and policy in the country today.

Therefore, I am throwing down my gauntlet at your quivering liberal feet. I hereby issue my challenge -- the Limbaugh Challenge: Listen to the show. Not for five minutes but for several hours: an hour a day for several days. Consider what he has to say -- the real policy material under the jokes and teasing bluster. Do what your intellectual keepers do not want you to do and keep an open mind. Ask yourself: What's he getting at? Why does he say the things he says? Why do so many people of goodwill -- like that nice Mr. Klavan -- agree with him?

The mainstream media (a.k.a. the Matrix) don't want you to listen to Limbaugh because they're afraid he'll wake you up and set you free of their worldview. You don't want to listen to him because you're afraid of the same thing.

Don't believe me? Well, then, gird your loins. Gather your courage. Accept the Limbaugh Challenge. See what happens.

I dare you.
Alright my liberal friends out there (and I know who you are), what do you say?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Taxes Bad....But Good

At least Carl Hiaasen lays it all out in his column today, even if he contradicts himself left and right:

But here's the deal. If government is serious about rebooting the economy, reforming healthcare and improving public education, everybody's going to pay for it -- just like we're paying for this brilliant, trillion-dollar adventure in Iraq (which, by the way, Boehner thinks was a swell idea.)

The difference is that much of the money spent here at home will have a measurable impact on American children, college students, seniors, veterans, working families and small businesses.

As a taxpayer, I've got no problem with that. It makes more sense than starting a faraway war on a whim.

Under Obama's plan, the Bush tax cuts that benefited the wealthy would be allowed to expire in a year or so, while couples earning less than $250,000 annually would receive an immediate reduction in their tax rates.

That means the vast majority of Americans would actually see their income taxes go down. My mother, for example, would pay less than she does now, which would be a good thing.

Under another of the president's proposals, some of the itemized deductions that I take on my tax returns would be pared in order to raise revenues for healthcare, and also to make the law more equitable.

The way it stands now is stacked in my favor. If Mom and I each donated $100 to the United Way, I'd get a better tax break for the contribution just because I'm in a higher bracket. The same is true for mortgage-interest deductions.

If Obama's revisions should pass, it won't mean that every tax dollar raised will be spent carefully and efficiently. Our government is too sprawling and clunky. Waste, ineptitude and corruption have been a plague since the founding of the republic.

Yet what good things the government can and must try to do require lots of money, and it has to come from somewhere. For those of us who are in better shape to take a hit than our parents or our kids, this is a no-brainer.

Hiaasen seems to be saying: government wastes and wastes, but it's OK...let the rich give even more to feed the corruption machine. Because they can. Despite the fact that more money for schools doesn't necessarily lead to better results. Talk about medicine that makes the patient even sicker...

Funny to see someone who's made his journalistic living cracking down on politicians and government actually stick up for more government. Perhaps he sees it as fodder for future scathing columns that paint him as the voice and hero of the common man.

So that's what it's come down to these days. The rich will give more. Because they can. It's that simple (BTW, if you think that only "the rich" will pay more taxes and that the rest of us will end up with a tax cut...well I think you're going to be in for a big surprise in the not-too-distant future).

Hey Carl...how about giving the private sector a shot? Or is that being too nice to "the rich"?

Oh Boy

Looks like the best and brightest of the Hopeandchangers aren't as good as cracked up to be, nor are they really that incredibly bright.

(Courtesy of Babalu Blog)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hanley Ramirez's Hair Problem

Somehow, I think Hanley will get over this once he remembers how much he's getting paid.

South Florida's Real Estate Market Dusting Itself Off

Now's the time to take the real estate plunge, say some. According to these stats, I would tend to agree.

Then again, watch for those ever-present rising insurance rates.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

April 2012

This article by Barry Jackson has me very much looking forward to Opening Day for the Miami Marlins at the new ballpark.

Give Until It Hurts - Because It Will

Re yesterday's coma-inducing Obama press conference, I don't know what irked me more: Barack Obama's desire to reduce "rich" people's tax deductions for charity "just 'cause he can", Obama's firm belief that the wealthy can afford the cut, or his mind-bending belief that charities won't be affected by the cut in deductable contributions.

Obama isn't exactly a pillar of giving. Neither is No. 2.

Life in the age of Hopeandchange.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Well, looks like only a last-second snag can prevent the Marlins from their coveted new stadium in Little Havana. July 1 is the drop-dead date; after that it's a done deal.

I've written before on my feelings about the new ballpark, in particular the pieces put in place to make this happen. I'll let Miami-Dade Commissioner Pepe Diaz put my general feelings in simple terms:

“It is not a perfect deal,” Diaz said. “I see more positives than I see negatives with this deal. I will tell you straight out that it will create jobs.”

Whether the jobs that will be created are long-lasting is doubtful. This is something the Just Say No crowd likes to harp on, among other things. Some are valid. Some are not. In the end, for me this is all about creating opportunity and having a vision, no matter how broad or poorly defined the vision may be right now. Professional sports teams do add value to communities, and serve the public good as Judge Cohen ruled last summer. Done right, there's no reason why the area around the stadium can't end up being something like Baltimore, Denver or even Washington D.C., instead of the constant "Just Say No" harping about new stadiums not serving as economic catalysts. They don't have to be the driving force, but a focal point around which planning and development can take place. It does takes vision, something our area lacks all too often. I'm an optimist by nature...so I'll all in.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Bottom of the 9th?

Could this be the day the Marlins stadium issue finally becomes resolved once and for all? I hope so.

Keep track of the news out of County Hall by checking in to Sarah Talalay's The Business of Sports blog over at the Sun-Sentinel.

Let's Go Marlins!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wasserman Schultz Deals With Breast Cancer

Local news outlets are reporting that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been fighting breast cancer for well over a year.
Determined to help other young women, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz disclosed on Saturday that she endured seven major surgeries last year, including removal of a malignant tumor, to win a bout against breast cancer.

Wasserman Schultz, 42, said she has not missed a day of work since her diagnosis in December 2007 and that she has a clean bill of health.

Now she plans to share her experience while calling for a nationwide education campaign to tell young women about warning signs and testing for breast cancer.

The congresswoman said she waited to disclose her illness until she was well past her last surgery in December and could assure her three young children that "mommy is OK."
I may not agree with Rep. Wasserman Schultz on the vast majority of issues, but aside from her break from partisanship in support of tough measures against Cuba, the fact that she had to deal with multiple surgeries and raising a family without missing a day of work in representing her constituents gets an immense amount of respect from yours truly. I've also had the chance to meet her on one occasion, and she seems to be a nice and down to earth person.

All the best to Rep. Wasserman Schultz.

castro Boys Out of Top 10

Ladies and gentlemen, Glenn Garvin on Parade Magazine's omission of castro, Inc. from their yearly Top 10 Worst Dictators list:

But in looking over Wallechinsky's list -- which is a current all-star team, not a Hall of Fame that includes the undearly departed -- it's nearly impossible to see how the Castro brothers didn't make the cut. Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe killed 163 people? Way ahead of you: The Castros are at 15,000 and climbing, according to the extraordinarily conservative count of Miami's Cuba Archive. Sudan's Omar al-Bashir has driven 2.7 million people from their homes in six years? Dude, 10,000 Cubans looking for a way off the island jumped over the walls of the Peruvian embassy in Havana in one day in 1980.

Wallechinsky notes solemnly that Eritrea's Isaias Afewerki has locked up 10 local journalists since 2001. As a reporter, I certainly think that's bad news -- but just last week Cubans observed the sixth anniversary of the so-called Black Spring roundup, when the Castros arrested 75 independent journalists and political dissidents. Fifty-five are still in prison.

If Wallechinsky hasn't heard of Black Spring, I'm not surprised; the United Nations apparently hasn't, either, and made Cuba a member of its Human Rights Council.


So why aren't they on Wallechinsky's list? Probably for the same reason that Barbara Walters once threw Fidel Castro a dinner party, or that Franklin Delano Roosevelt's brain trust flocked to the Soviet Union to study Stalin's economic program, or that lovable old Will Rogers returned from a trip to Mussolini's Italy with the admiring observation that the ''dictator form of government is the greatest form of government -- that is, if you have the right dictator.'' Because, to paraphrase Lord Acton, power seduces, and absolute power seduces absolutely.


But others have been simple power groupies, including New York Times reporter Herbert Matthews, whose daftly admiring reports from Castro's guerrilla camps during the war against Batista almost single-handedly created the insouciantly charming image of Castro that persists to this day.

Before switching his affection to Castro, Matthews, too, had been an admirer of Mussolini. And his heroic portrait of the Italian army's 1932 invasion of Ethiopia infuriated Africans almost as much as his later stories did anti-Castro Cubans.

It was also Matthews who provided the rationale for subsequent generations of journalistic and political courtiers to avert their eyes from Castro's dark side: the show trials and their bloody aftermath, the squalid economy, the ramming of a tugboat full of women and children trying to escape Cuba. ''A revolution is not a tea party,'' Matthews wrote. On that, at least, we can all agree.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Marco Rubio is exploring a possible U.S. Senate run next year. I hope he decides to run.

Why? I like his principled, conservative stance on taxes. He was advocating for less taxes and fiscal responsibility before the caca hit the fan last year. Unfortunately, his "no property taxes" stance was seen as too radical by most folks. Wonder what would be said today of Rubio's crazy idea that more money to government isn't necessarily a good thing?

His stance on Cuba is about as solid and passionate as it gets, and the respect and honor he gives to those who came before him to this great land never fails to stir me. And he doesn't need a teleprompter to deliver a great speech.

He's not afraid to challenge those within his party, either. Here's a spanking he gave to a Panhandle Republican several years back.

A very smart guy. A local saguesera guy, just like me. We even went to the same high school (we graduated a couple of years apart). But it's not just because he represents me, but because I feel he represents the best America has to offer to anyone who decides to work hard and earn their living.

Here's a short video from MarcoRubio.com.


Only in Miami (NOT)

Just another "Only in Miami California" occurrence, right?

Rite of Spring

Those who think that there are no seasons in South Florida aren't paying close enough attention. Sure, the changes here aren't as obvious as in more poleward latitudes, but they still occur.

So, every year right around the first day of spring, one of South Florida's favorite exotics, the Yellow Tabebuia (Tabebuia Caraiba) breaks out in its full golden glory. There's also a pink version which is blooming as well. The very dry winter we've had has made this year's display that much more vivid.

Here's a picture from right across the street from 26th Parallel HQ:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thinking Good

Here's the obligatory weekly shout-out to 2 Think Good.

Robert, Robert Go Away

I guess if me leaving town is what's needed to get some rain in South Florida, maybe I'll just have to take one for the team.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

FIU Medical School Plans to Take Off

Read this very interesting story on FIU's plans for their new medical school, bolstered by a study which indicates that as many as 66,000 new jobs would be created by 2025.

Let's not go as far as calling this a stimulus as this is not a short term project. This is more of an investment in our community's future. I realize there are public dollars being thrown into this, but I'd like to think that a second major university medical school in South Florida could do nothing but improve our quality of life by being a center of medical research and practice, not to mention the influx of professionals tasked to carry this out. In short, a hard-to-lose situation for South Florida.

Here's a short PDF with stats. And here's the long version of the study.

Latest Marlins Saga (Version 40000000099999)

Wow. Didn't expect this to happen. This probably puts a serious damper on the possibility of Michelle Spence-Jones voting YES on the overall stadium deal and swinging the overall vote in favor of the ballpark. We'll see.

The Florida Marlins' pledge to steer millions of dollars in construction contracts for their proposed ballpark to black-owned businesses is dead.

Just four days after the team and local black leaders signed the deal, hailing it as a historic breakthrough in race relations, the compact dissolved after the Miami-Dade County Attorney said it would violate court rulings that prohibit governments from awarding contracts based on race.

While the Marlins pledged black businesses 15 percent of the work from the teams' $120 million contribution to the construction project, the city and county are funding the rest of the $639 million stadium, parking and public works project.

''We are very disappointed in the county attorney's interpretation of the law,'' Bill Diggs wrote in a statement released late Tuesday, announcing the dissolution of the compact.

Diggs is president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, which represents black-owned businesses.

Sarah Talalay of the Sun-Sentinel has more here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cuban Baseball Slavery Blogburst

It's late on this Monday evening and I haven't had a chance to participate in the blogburst highlighting Cuban baseball players and their less than stellar treatment at the hands of their masters.

I'm much too tired from all day travel and meetings to write anything even remotely coherent and/or enlightening on the subject. However, my blog cohorts are doing an excellent job of getting the word out about Cuba's baseball stars who toil under the regime, and I feel like I need to do my very small part.

Go here to read all the posts.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Poor Schumacher-Matos

Remember Edward Schumacher-Matos, our local Miami Herald ombudsman? Well, he recently wrote a column in the Tampa Tribune which attempts to debunk the illegal immigration leads to higher crime myth. For the most part, I agree with Schumacher-Matos.

Of course, in order to make his point (or despite making his point), he had to throw people on the other side of the ideological fence from him under the proverbial bus. Namely: Bill O'Reilly and Lou Dobbs. Schumacher-Matos starts off the column in the following manner:
The fury of Bill O'Reilly, Lou Dobbs and other nativists in response to the news that the prime suspect wanted for the murder of Chandra Levy is an illegal immigrant from El Salvador could easily be dismissed as racism. But complicating matters is that most Americans probably agree with them. (Ah, crap. Nothing like other Americans agreeing with those nasty inbred nativists to screw up the ol' "you're a racist for being against illegal immigration" mantra, eh?).
Sounds good, right? Well, Bill O'Reilly got wind of the article and invited our esteemed ombudsman to appear on the O'Reilly Factor yesterday. It wasn't pretty. For Schumacher-Matos, that is. O'Reilly, who is the farthest thing from a racist, immediately and repeatedly challenged Schumacher-Matos on his nativist/racist remark. Schumacher-Matos insisted he didn't call O'Reilly a racist (he's also the same guy who wanted to censor right-wing columnists, so what does he know?). Give the guy credit. At least he showed up and stared O'Reilly straight in the face (with a smug smile the entire time, I might add).

When will some people understand that folks like O'Reilly just want laws enforced and are in favor of kicking illegals out after they are convicted of crimes. Only in this day and age, and only from the left, will you ever see this simple and rational belief get repeatedly and maliciously labeled as nativism (which is little more than the "nice" code word for racist, BTW).

Who Cares About Rush Limbaugh

One of our local leftist loons, quoted here by Robert, does his part to spread the Party's talking points o' the month (while accusing everyone else of partisanship):

So when Republicans get in line behind a drug addict like Limbaugh and state that they want Obama to fail, what they are saying, folks, in effect, is that they want Obama's measures to rescue America to fail.

No. They are saying that they want Obama's plans to fail because Obama's plans are destructive for America.

That is the issue. That is why the stock market has been going down since it became likely that Obama would be elected, and why the market has continued to decline since Obama's inauguration. Obama/Pelosi's spending, taxing and regulating schemes destroy wealth and opportunity.

Rush Limbaugh is irrelevant, a phony issue cooked up by the permanent campaign to distract attention from the obvious fact that the Great One is wrecking our economy. What kind of President focuses his scarce time and political capital on conducting carefully planned and focus-grouped demagogic attack campaigns against media critics during an economic meltdown? How does that help the country? Obama is demonstrating ideologically driven incompetence on a colossal scale, not to mention a shocking level of personal arrogance and narcissism. That's the issue, he's the issue, not Rush Limbaugh. It's as if Nixon were still in office or we were living in some kind of marginal third-world country where the government was always conducting propaganda campaigns against enemy conspiracies.

And who cares about Carville. Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer as recently as 2006 were telling the media (and our enemies) with obvious glee that we were losing in Iraq. So was Obama. They were saying it for the purest, most cynical partisan motives. But that's all forgotten now that W's won that war. On to today's talking points...

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Sports and Economy

Arguments against the Marlins stadium typically center around two themes: use of taxpayer (i.e. tourist) money and lack of real impact on local economy.

Focusing on the latter theme, the Sun-Sentinel's Sarah Talalay's article on the impact of the World Baseball Classic on our local economy is an interesting read. I realize there's a big difference between the economic impact of a big tournament such as the WBC (even minus Dominican Republic) and your typical 162-game MLB schedule. Nevertheless, if we lose MLB or any other major sports league, you can also forget about the bumps in local revenue provided by tournaments and events such as the WBC, Super Bowl, All-Star games, etc. Sports can and does bring money, even if they're not year-round events.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Think Before You Speak

From South Florida Daily Blog dated March 2:
So when Republicans get in line behind a drug addict like Limbaugh and state that they want Obama to fail, what they are saying, folks, in effect, is that they want Obama's measures to rescue America to fail. They don't want his policies to be effective and they don't want any of the aforementioned to happen under Obama's leadership. Why? Quite simply, they desire this failure so they they can regain power in 2010 and 2012.

These same Republicans will try to justify their position by claiming that Democrats wanted Bush to fail. Well, no. Many Democrats disagreed with Bush on issues of the war, torture, the way he handled Katrina, and, quite frankly, the list was endless. But did we want him to fail? Did we want more American soldiers killed in Iraq? Did we want the people of New Orleans to hurt any more than they already had? Did we really want America to suffer so that in 2008 a Democrat would be elected as President? Of course not. Oh, you might find someone at Democratic Underground who expressed such feelings in the comments of a post there, but there was never a party spokesman or leader who ever uttered such words (ed. emphasis mine) let alone broadcast them for the world to hear.
From FOX via Say Anything Blog:

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, just minutes before learning of the terrorist attacks on America, Democratic strategist James Carville was hoping for President Bush to fail, telling a group of Washington reporters: "I certainly hope he doesn't succeed." (ed. emphasis mine)

Carville was joined by Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, who seemed encouraged by a survey he had just completed that revealed public misgivings about the newly minted president.

"We rush into these focus groups with these doubts that people have about him, and I'm wanting them to turn against him," Greenberg admitted.

Nope. Not a word. Ever. And definitely no retraction or correction on the part of SFDB.

No Leader - No Problem?

Interesting take on the GOP's lack of leadership by S.E. Cupp. Not sure I totally subscribe to the "let's allow everyone in just because they call themselves conservatives" theme S.E. is promoting, but if you let it sink in a little before forming a definite opinion, you may begin to see her point.

After a longer-than-usual campaign season of infighting over its principles and goals, the GOP should acknowledge the dissention within its ranks by giving multiple voices a mantle and a microphone.

It's not Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity or Mitt Romney. It's Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity and Mitt Romney. It's Rush and Steele and Jindal, too. Of course, it's Newt Gingrich. And Reps. Cantor, Pence and McConnell, too. The GOP needs a broad coalition of bright leaders, young up-and-comers, seasoned veterans, loud-mouthed radio hosts, sober and serious policy wonks and Capital Hill movers and shakers.

If that's the image the GOP projects, it'll pay dividends over the long run. In recent years, Democrats - radicalized by the netroots - have become increasingly hostile and exclusionary toward those inside their own ranks who don't tow the party line. The liberal pieties of the day, like green living, abortion rights and secular science, are prerequisites for membership, and Democrats who disobey orders are routinely and publicly scolded.

The right, contrastingly, should embrace its intellectual diversity in favor of tolerance and inclusion, bringing Ron Paul libertarians, Huckabee values voters and David Brooks conservative intellectuals into the fold.

This doesn't mean denying internal disagreements or letting the GOP morph into a shapeless, all-things-to-all-people, opportunistic blob. We still share core values - chief among them, fiscal responsibility, which we need now more than ever.

It means relishing the vibrant, sometimes raucous, sometimes conflicting tangle of ideas that make up conservatism - and treating them as strengths, not weaknesses.

Read the entire article here.

Miami's Sex Offender Problem

Fred Grimm opines on Miami-Dade County's ordinance which essentially forces sex offenders to have no place to live but under the Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge. This isn't a recent development, and Grimm himself wrote a previous column on this a couple of weeks ago. I've hesitated to post about it, not because it isn't noteworthy, but because quite frankly I don't have a good solution to offer. Jorge, on the other hand, stuck his neck out a while back.

Grimm, with support from analyses of recidivism rates of sex offenders, points out that isolating these people doesn't make us any safer and in fact could make us less safe. OK, but how do you explain this to a victim? To the family of the victim? That's the question few seem to want to address. We spend a lot of time concerned about the rights of criminals and our city's image - justly so - but we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that laws and ordinances like these are intended solely for the protection and safety of the innocent.

I don't know the extent of the crimes committed by the 48 men living under the Julia Tuttle. But one solution that could make some sense is to apply different treatment methods depending on the severity of the crime. This study points out that recidivism rates vary depending on the type of sex offender. Pedophiles and rapists, as well as repeat offenders, have higher recidivism rates. Not surprising in the least. Remember: John Couey fit every single one of the criteria listed above.

Speaking of which, it's not totally lost on me that Florida has Jessica's Law (thank goodness) which was enacted to deal with the most heinous and highest risk people. It's also not lost on me that it's Jessica's Law which in part inspired the Miami-Dade ordinance we're currently discussing the merits of.

I agree that just throwing people under a bridge isn't going to solve anything. All I'm trying to say is that whatever solution we come up with (and there's no doubt that we NEED a solution),
let's make sure we don't lose sight of the fact that some of the folks that commit these crimes are likely beyond help and could very well hurt someone else if given the chance to. Let's not water it down so much that we put our community even more at risk.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


That's my reaction to the approval of changes to U.S./Cuba policy? Does anyone know what the heck this means? The details, not the fact that whatever changes are reflected here won't do a thing to help Cuba take a step toward freedom.

Hope and Change in a cloud of pixie dust, I guess.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

M - V - P

One of the best finishes to one of the best (and longest) games I've seen in a long time. Dwyane Wade of El Heat does it all. Sources tell me he was even was selling concessions at halftime, and helped clean up the stands after the game.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Marlins Stadium Saga (UPDATED)

As the Marlins' stadium deal continues to flounder and the back-and-forth between Carlos Alvarez and Miami city commissioners heated up last week, let me attempt to approach the whole stadium issue from a ever-so-slightly different tack.

Before I explain, let me set a little background music. I had the pleasure of having lunch with Jorge the other day, and the topic of the stadium came up as both of us are supporters of the stadium efforts. Jorge is by far the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to Marlins and stadium finances. Also not to be ignored is the ever-versatile Henry Gomez, who in his Fish or Cut Bait blog came up with one of the best explanations in favor of a stadium that I've seen:
Now I'm not a big fan of subsidies, especially at the federal level because a lot of has to do with social engineering (like subsidizing corn ethanol which is a money loser and is driving up the price of food). I have no problem with tax breaks for corporations but honestly I'd like to see lower across the board tax rates for corporations if not the complete repeal of corporate taxes. But that's a discussion for another day. My point is that in the real world we help out individual businesses when we feel the benefit outweighs the cost.

That's why we build county facilities like the airport to serve private businesses like the airlines. That's why we build a performing arts center (ed. Arsht Center) that can be used by private organizations that produce such entertainment.
Obviously, Henry draws a line in the sand. If you think a successful baseball franchise is something worth having, hop on board. If not, then there's not much else I can tell you. I am willing to agree that the current stadium deal is far from perfect. In fact, in some cases it stinks on ice. Those who are against the current deal, but in favor of the Marlins being a successful and viable entity in South Florida, I don't have a big problem with. I DO have a problem with the prevailing attitude that the Marlins should pretty much take a hike if they can't foot the entire cost of a new stadium.

To me, this stadium issue is in many ways reflective of where we are and where we want to go as a community. A key component of any community is how it takes care of its arts and entertainment institutions. Think about all the progress we've made in the arts in recent years: the Arsht Center and the proposed Museum Park, for example. Also, think about the many failures: Florida Philharmonic, Concert Association of Florida, Miami Fusion, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Orange Bowl Parade, the Orange Bowl Stadium...I'm sure I missed a few, but you get the idea.

When it comes to stewarding our institutions, we're just not very good as a whole. In fact, we're often downright hostile. Not exactly a nice way to portray ourselves as a community. "We have bad and corrupt politicians", you may argue. Yes we do. So do a lot of other places, but they manage to execute complex deals involving public AND private interests. Why? I'd like to think that people in other places spend more time and energy trying to come up with solutions rather than identifying the problem over and over again. "Just Say NO" should be South Florida motto. It fits us like a glove, I'm sad to report.

When Miami commissioners Sarnoff and Spence-Jones sprang up at the last second and threw obstacles in the way of the stadium deal, that's hostile. Not in the act of opposing the deal, but the manner in which it was done. When people complain about stadium funds that should instead go to schools and transportation, when in fact it CAN'T be done, that's a sign of an ignorant populace that our politicians prey upon.

County mayor Carlos Alvarez is a decent and honorable man, in my opinion. His vocal support of the stadium may or may not be on solid footing, but I think I know where he's coming from:
'Sincere and earnest work and meticulous and deliberate negotiations have been hijacked,'' Alvarez said Tuesday. ``The best intentions have been morphed into unreasonable demands that have nothing to do with baseball.''


''Quite frankly, I'm appalled as a citizen of Miami-Dade County,'' Alvarez said. He said if his fellow elected officials keep demanding concessions in exchange for their votes, ``we will never get any major project done in this community.''
Civic pride shouldn't make us blind, but it encourages good faith efforts to get things done. If the current deal is bad, let's iron it out without the grandstanding and without non-sensical comments from residents who think the stadium will take food away from people's mouths. If New York, Washington D.C., and many other cities can agree on complex stadium deals for their teams, why can't we? Wanting the best for a community doesn't mean throwing people under the bus simply because they want their baseball team to have a modern facility in which to play in. It means working in good faith and honestly ironing out differences. That's how things get done in life, when you care.

I encourage everyone who stuck with this to the end to visit Jorge's site and read his many posts on the subject, especially those comparing the Marlins stadium with other new projects around the country.

UPDATED (11 AM): Jackie Bueno Sousa fairly looks at both sides of the issue and brings up some interesting statistics in today's Herald.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Check Us Out!

WARNING: Gratuitous chest-thumping follows.

Paul Ibrahim tagged this humble blog as a "Blog For The Weekend".

I feel honored. Thanks Paul. BTW, if you haven't checked out Paul's blog, please do so. You can thank me later.

Down In The Pitts - Again

And to think this guy won a Pulitzer Prize a while back:
To judge from the eagerness with which they prostrate themselves before Limbaugh, the answer is troublingly simple: They fear losing the votes they have. They are unable to disenthrall themselves from that culturally intolerant, intellectually incoherent, perpetually outraged and willfully ignorant cohort of the American demographic they call their base, i.e., extreme social conservatives.
At least Pitts agrees with me that Republicans should reach out to minorities more:

As many pundits and even party officials have noted, given the dramatic cultural and demographic changes underway in this country, the GOP faces a real possibility of being reduced to a regional party of limited national relevance unless it broadens its appeal beyond angry white men living primarily in the states of the old Confederacy. That being the case, why are they kissing the ring of the angry white man who broadcasts from West Palm Beach?

Why are they not in South L.A. talking about entrepreneurship? Or in the Ninth Ward bearing proposals to encourage marriage and strengthen families? Or in Liberty City offering ideas to stem the violence? Why are they not competing for the votes they say they want?

All true, Mr. Pitts. But as you know, it takes two to tango and one biased MSM to distort the message the way you did in your column today.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Steele DOES Get It

This Politico article totally takes Rush Limbaugh's side in the Michael Steele/Limbaugh "battle".

(Michael) Steele’s job is really not that difficult. Being a party chairman is not what it used to be. Steele’s job is to raise money and go on TV every now and then and not screw things up too badly.

He has failed at this last task.

Unfortunately for him, Steele actually believes he should be the voice of the Republican Party, crafting its vision and shaping its strategy.

Enter Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh has his own voice, his own vision and his own strategy. And the real trouble for Steele is that Limbaugh understands the core of the Republican Party — where it wants to go and what it wants to do — far better than Steele does.

Steele has somehow gotten it into his head that hard-core Republicans want to expand the party base to attract new voters, especially minorities.

Well, I don't know for sure if all "hard-core" Republicans want to attract minorities into the GOP, but I'd like to think that there's more than enough reasonable ones that do. Steele is being victimized for going on talk shows and not hitting back the hosts hard enough when confronted with anti-GOP rhetoric. In this sense, criticism of Steele is justified (e.g., I would have NEVER let anyone associate the GOP with Nazis as Steele allowed D.L. Hughley to just recently).

OK. But the Politico article primarily hammers Steele for having the crazy notion that the Republican party shouldn't be reaching out to minorities. That's just ridiculous. One thing is to sell out your principles while reaching out, yet another is to maintain those principles intact while encouraging folks to come to our side of the fence. I mean, it's not as if people are banging down doors to join the GOP these days.

In this humble correspondent's view, it is VITAL that the GOP reach out to minorities. If Michael Steele, a minority himself, knows that, why doubt him? If we keep our heads in the sand and pretend as if folks are just going to magically show up and be Republicans, especially in a day and age when the media continues to feed misconceptions of Republicans and conservatives, when minorities will soon become the aggregate majority in this country, then you can kiss conservatism in this country good-bye.

True conservatism doesn't have to sell out in order to appeal to a wide range of individuals. This has been proven time and time again. People just want to be a part of something that makes sense, and conservatism in its purest form most certainly does. If it's indeed true that hard-core Republicans desire not to reach out to people outside the traditional GOP profile (again I'm not convinced of this), then perhaps it's they who need to reevaluate their values, not folks like Michael Steele who despite differences in style and personality have bravely swam against the tide in support of their true beliefs.

(Cross-posted at Babalu)

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Go Ahead, I Dare You

As mentioned in previous posts, I respect Rush Limbaugh and think he's a very intelligent man, but find him a bit too much to take in one sitting. Kind of how I feel when I eat too much of my wife's cheese flan. Therefore, this Republican and conservative won't be signing up to join the Rush fan club anytime soon.

Having said that (and you knew this was coming, right?), I feel Democrats and the Obama administration are making a HUGE mistake by engaging and mocking Rush.

Apparently, some level-headed Democrats feel the same way.

From NewsBusters via Malkin:
Susan Estrich is worried. Very worried. She believes that the current coordinated Democrat strategy of attacking Rush Limbaugh is completely counterproductive. And she's right:

He talks for hours every day. He gets paid to talk. Just talk. Doing it well is no small thing; witness the number of people who have tried to be him, or be the NOT-him, and failed. But he doesn't have to build a coalition. He doesn't need the votes of the other side to earn his check. He doesn't have to write the legislation, convince Olympia Snowe, raise money to keep the lights on, put his name on the ballot. All the things he doesn't have to do give him the freedom to be as effective as he is at what he does.

Trying to beat him at his own game when your own game is played by a different set of rules is a losing proposition. He knows that.

Estrich, whom I generally respect despite ideological differences, makes other good points in her piece. One thing she didn't mention that many Democrats and the White House are underestimating is one simple, basic but important thing (already alluded to):

Rush Limbaugh, like him or not, is an extremely smart and savvy man who has used his smarts and instincts to make himself the most popular radio host in the country. If you underestimate this, well....go right ahead. But consider this a fair warning.

Lampoon Limbaugh and his listeners at your own risk. Limbaugh has nothing to lose. I can picture Limbaugh right now doing his best Robert Conrad and daring the White House to keep it up. The opposite is most definitely true for the other side.

(Cross-posted at Babalu)

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Simple Joys and Milestones

We get so caught up in current events and mundane tasks that it can be easy to forget the little but still significant things that happen on a daily basis.

Having two young daughters makes it easy for me to re-focus. For example, after about 1 month of practice, my seven-year-old can ride her bike without training wheels, albeit with a little difficulty. In the grand scheme of things this may not seem so important. But for a seven-year-old, it IS a big deal. I bet you most of us out there remember when we first mastered the art of bike riding, especially that first big spill. I sure do. This ranks right up there with the first sleep-over, first movie, first plane trip, etc.

Speaking of movies, just heard something that will thrill my daughter: High School Musical 4 is ready to start shooting in 2 weeks!

Ave Maria

A quaint European village? Nope. This is Ave Maria, Florida, home of the newest Catholic university in the United States. It's virtually located in the middle of nowhere, about 5 miles south of Immokalee and 25 miles east of Naples in Collier County. I took these pictures from my cellphone while on a recent trip to Southwest Florida.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I "Heart" Hialeah (With Pictures)

As a sort of follow-up to my recent Hialeah post, check out some pictures of the city taken by Cigar Mike and posted on Babalu Blog.


Thank You President Bush

President Obama would never utter those four words above, at least not in public. But his plan to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by end of August 2010 can be successfully implemented in no small part due to the dogged persistence of President George W. Bush to continue the fight in Iraq and support the surge which has essentially crippled the enemy opposition (remember Al Qaeda in Iraq).

A surge that Obama repeatedly did NOT support during his presidential campaign. An effort in Iraq that Obama appeared to give up on.

If everything goes smoothly, and there's no reason to think it won't, Obama would get the credit for ending the war and ensuring the victory that Bush handed to him.

It's not all roses for Obama, however. Besides his plan being very similar to Bush's drawdown plan, keeping 35,000 to 50,000 troops in "transitional forces" doesn't exactly please the far-left. Shades of John McCain and the "100-year occupation tag" placed on him?


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Talk Radio Fanning Flames of Hatred?????

Myriam Marquez relates the sad case of the killing of 2 Chilean students by an out of control lunatic in the Florida Panhandle in her column today. The incident which occurred a few days ago, is tragic enough, and Marquez accurately points fingers in all the right places. Except in the last sentence.
The horror of his actions serve as a warning about brewing hatred in small pockets of our country. Hatred that's fanned by the Internet and anti-immigrant rhetoric spewed on talk radio and some cable TV shows -- twisted into vendettas against the innocent.
Marquez is usually quite reasonable, even when I don't agree with her, but this closing sentence is a cop-out. She blames talk radio and "some" cable TV shows, without naming a single show or host that could have egged on this deranged individual. Perhaps she knows that you can't defend the indefensible, so why bother naming names?

Whenever someone tries to blame the horrific actions of one individual on a certain segment of society, whether it's talk radio, music (remember suicides being blamed on Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest in the 80s), movies, etc., it's a sign that they have little interest in just calling it for what it is. At worst, it signals some predisposed bias toward said media that finds a convenient outlet in this type of story.

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