Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Father fears for Pablito after SCHIP veto

This toddler captured hearts when we met him and his father, Pablo Urquiza.

In this post, Pablo tells the story of his son, costs of his epilepsy treatment, and the SCHIP veto.

Are you listening, Mario Diaz-Balart?

Last September, my three year old son Pablo was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy. Although this is very difficult for any parent to deal with (no one wants to see their child suffering from a disease) the situation was alleviated by the fact that at least my family had health insurance provided through my employer.

My son’s condition required hospitalization, visits to the emergency room, x-rays, various MRI’s, encephalograms, the intervention of doctors, paramedics, specialists and medication – with the cost of his treatment rapidly escalating to nearly $30,000. Fortunately, I had medical insurance and a job. Then I was told that I was being laid-off, and I was left without a steady job, but with medical coverage (for only a few more months).

That’s when I really became desperate. What do I do? What happens if I have to take my son to the hospital again? And what if he has to undergo more costly examinations? Just one MRI costs $4,000…A good option for someone in my situation would have been the health program for children, SCHIP. But at the same time, I learned that President Bush had just vetoed extending coverage to millions of children who are citizens and legal residents in this country. I also discovered that my Republican congressman, Mario Diaz-Balart, also voted against extending coverage which would have helped my son in the near future.

What excuse do these bureaucrats have to deny my son a basic human right – the right to have access to the best medical care possible? How can the richest country on the planet deny that right to my three year old son? What can I do as a father? I want Mario Diaz-Balart to explain to my son, face to face, the reasons why he has forgotten those who are helpless and innocent.

--- Pablo – Miami Lakes, Florida

Thanks to Isabel of Democratas de Miami for talking with Pablo and translating. Check out our blog in Spanish that she handles, http://democatasdemiami.blogspot.com

Friday, December 14, 2007

Yes to Torture, say Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balarts

Our three Republican members of the U.S. House have voted for torture. Yes, let’s reaffirm that: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21), and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) voted Thursday with 186 other Republicans on the Nay side of a measure that the Democratic majority put forward to bar CIA agents from using waterboarding while questioning suspected terrorists.

Thank goodness that the Republicans no longer are in the majority in the House – the measure passed in a 222-199 vote. Let it not be said that the Democrats are worthless in Washington.

That said, we don’t know what will happen when this measure hits the Senate with its lovely rules and scant Democratic majority.

Here’s the story on DailyKos with a link therein to the full vote tally. A puzzle to me was why Dennis Kucinich was on the Nay side with most Republicans. I looked at his campaign web site and U.S. House web site and saw no explanation. Kendrick Meek was on the Aye side, while Debbie Wasserman Schultz was not voting.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Protest at two Miami Republicans' offices

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Say Yes?

When you say no to Mario, you're going to have to say yes to someone else? Why not say yes to Joe Garcia? How do you do that? Help draft Joe to run against Mario:

* Sign the Petition: Please take 20 seconds of your time and add your voice to the many already asking Joe to get in the race.
* Join the Draft Joe Garcia Facebook Group: Already over 70 members!
* Contribute on Act Blue: We’ve been gradually moving up and now stand at 13 contributions with $120 raised. Our goal is 100 contributions of $5.00 each, so we still have a way to go. All it takes is $5.00 and you will help us get a little closer. Please let us know that you gave on the contributions link above.
* Spread the word: Email this website to five people and tell them about what we’re doing to Draft Joe into the 25th district race.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Door’s still open for Draft Joe Garcia – Raul Martinez, too

For those not on the email list of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party, here’s what Joe Garcia said in response to the rush of interest in drafting him for Congress: “While I am still far from making a decision, I do want to say that your kindness and support are very humbling and much appreciated!”

Regarding the on-line mention of his name having appeared in the Cuban regime newspaper Granma, he said, “Let me be clear that this paper is the communist propaganda newspaper and it makes assertions about the community and Congresspeople that are slanderous. And, although I may completely disagree with the Republican congressional delegation, these assertions by Granma are patently false.”

Granma had written an article about U.S. news reports on the South Florida congressional races and used its normal “Mafia” terminology in referring to the South Florida Republicans in Congress, This caused a little eruption of injured pride among some Cuban Americans. Garcia -- of Cuban background himself -- called one who protested, and issued his statement to make sure his distance from Havana was clear.

Garcia’s email concluded with mention of the new web site draftgarcia.com, so I think it’s safe to say he’s not against running against Mario Diaz-Balart in District 25. In an interview Friday with Nicole Sandler on WINZ AM940, he said it was a matter of convincing his wife and young daughter that it was right for the family.

Expect a decision by the second half of January, he said.

Uh, Joe, isn’t that when we’ll be in the thick of the runup to the Jan. 29 Florida presidential primary? Well, at least people will be thinking about politics.

Meanwhile, it’s heartening to hear enthusiasm for the Garcia candidacy. Nicole Sandler said on WINZ, “How awesome it would be to have Joe Garcia in the House of Representatives.”

On Stuck on the Palmetto, blogger Rick said he liked the way Joe debates the hardliners on the radio and provided a link to one of the best examples. I’ll repeat it here, along with Rick’s advice to let the link download, and then advance the slider to about 19:00. It runs for about a half-hour until the host, Henry Gomez, is so thoroughly defeated that he mutes Joe Garcia.

Rick concluded: “Joe has said he would run if he was asked. Let’s ask. Let’s start tossing out relics of the past and start looking forward.”

Meanwhile, there’s a growing web site to draft Raul Martinez, former mayor of Hialeah, to run for Congressional District 21, the seat held by Lincoln Diaz-Balart. You can hear Joe Garcia encouraging Martinez to run, in that clip on WINZ. Again, a decision likely in January.

Garcia said he knows of a handful of possible candidates to run against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Congressional District 18, and he’s encouraging them to consider it strongly.

What’s needed is a super majority in Congress to end the war and deal with health care – all the reverses needed after two terms of George W. Bush – and we should not shrink from thinking landslide Democratic victory in this supposed Republican stronghold.

Sweet dreams, everyone – five Democrats in the U.S. House from Miami-Dade.

We’re not the only ones thinking about it. From farther afield, hope springs from the Swing State Project, with a post that went up on Friday noting the moves to draft Garcia and Martinez. Read through the long string of comments to see how other races in Florida would be affected, and how progressives around the country will be encouraged to help us sweep the Republicans out in South Florida.

In case you forget how to get the links to draft Garcia and Martinez, they are on the main page of Miami-Dade Dems, in the Links section down in the right-hand column. Don't just sit there -- go to the sites and sign up!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Draft Joe Garcia – great idea!

It’s tempting to think that this is emerging now via the “Cuban newspapers” because the mails are so slow between Washington and Havana. Ha ha. Actually, the Cuban Interests section in Washington was hot on the Internet as soon as The Hill published this topic back on Oct. 18, and Havana learned in a microsecond that Joe Garcia was tempted enough to be saying to The Hill he’d run for Congress if the party asked him.

“Ouch!” They said there in Havana. (What’s Espanol for Ouch?) “Bad for us if Joe Garcia takes over in the House of Representatives from one of those shirt-tail relatives of our Leader.” So they probably said in Havana.

And then it took them almost a month to figure out how to say it in their press.

So here’s the way I imagine their triple-twist thinking went:

  1. “The Diaz-Balart brothers and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – don’t forget Mel Martinez! – are so useful to keeping us Communists in power that we can’t imagine life without their neo-con faces in the House and Senate.” [This occupied them for a week.]
  2. “But if we came out and said we favor their being re-elected in 2008, the voters there would think it was a trick, and then Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez would run and be elected.” [This took two more weeks of deep thought.]
  3. “So we’ll publish a subtle analysis of the Miami political situation in Granma, our party organ, and appear to approve the likely challenges by Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez against the Diaz-Balarts, whom we’ll label as ‘Batista supporters,’ and, Voila! The Diaz-Balarts and their gang will be elected again as the voters react against what we endorse.” [Another week passed working this up.]

Here in peaceful South Florida, we raise our heads from the newspapers and TV screens full of news of police and criminals killing each other, and realize slowly that Cuba is messing around in our politics. Damn! That’s what they’re trying, is it? We’ll show them! Let’s Draft Joe Garcia and show them they can’t discourage us with their triple-twist trick!

Well, this may – or may not – be what happened, but in any case it’s a good idea. The Florida Politics blog has a diary up since last night with that goal – Draft Joe Garcia – and it’s also up on DailyKos with a way to vote and say whether you’d be willing to donate $5 to get him to run. Check it out. All the links are therein.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Big tobacco helps keep him in Congress

I almost missed this from the Saturday Miami Herald, which was not part of my hectic day at the Florida Democratic Party convention in Orlando. Thanks for the tip, my friend.

We're starting to see more clearly into the haze around our three Republican members of the U.S. House, and it's cigar smoke and money in that haze. It's why (they say) they vote against SCHIP. Golly, it's "an attack on the Cuban-American community," Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) is quoted as saying in Beth Reinhard's weekly column in the Miami Herald.

Many posts back I was puzzled at a fragment I heard on the radio in which one of the D-B brothers said something about cigar-rollers being the victims of the SCHIP bill. How so? I wondered. Then I heard that the connection was that increased tobacco taxes would fund the extra outlay for children's health insurance, and our South Florida cigar-rollers would fall by the wayside.

Now the Herald column makes it even more clear: tobacco interests are big donors to Lincoln (FL-21) and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18).

Well, let's try to develop that more in the coming days.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Will Raul run? And Joe? The Hill asks

This article in The Hill, the congressional newspaper, lays out what may be our races for the U.S. House of Representatives in Miami-Dade County. Raul Martinez vs. Lincoln Diaz-Balart. Joe Garcia vs. Mario Diaz-Balart. Someone vs. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Raul Martinez has been in this blog before as a potential candidate for Congress. Joe Garcia hasn’t. Now, as many of you know, Joe Garcia is my boss, and I could ask him what he intends. But I’m waiting for him to tell me, and what he told me was that The Hill article has it right.

And what does Joe say in The Hill article? He would run if the party asked him.

Raul says he will decide in the next few weeks, so that someone else who’s thinking about the challenge will have plenty of time.

Read it here and factor it into your plan for political donations for the ‘o8 campaign. And keep in mind that the national party sent a nice signal of future support when the DCCC took out ads on Spanish radio this week against the three Republican House members. That hasn't happened in many years.

And, oh yes, drop in to the DCCC website and see what they announced for their fund-raising accomplishments in the third quarter. "Record fund-raising" brought in $16 million in the third quarter and the DCCC has $28.3 million on hand. This was the third consecutive strong quarter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Free ride ends for Mario Diaz-Balart

We’ve been demonstrating in the streets against them -- the three Republican members of Congress from Miami-Dade County. The Democrats up in Washington must have heard us: The Democratic Party is starting to run radio ads against the three for their support of President Bush’s veto of the SCHIP bill on children’s health insurance.

And true to their ghastly form, they trotted out all the tired adjectives and adverbs in response: “extreme left,” “pathetic partisan,” “distorting the truth,” “massively raising taxes.”

Don’t you wonder what they’d say if something really were wrong? Why don’t they say that about the disastrous war? The humongous deficit?

Hey, folks -- we’re talking about health insurance for children here. A ton of your Republican colleagues in the House voted for the bill that Bush vetoed. Are they all pathetic left-wingers too?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Tuesday it was buying ad time on Spanish-language radio to target Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21) and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25).

"In their districts, Republicans are feeling the heat for supporting President Bush instead of the health care for Florida's kids," DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen said. "We will continue to go district by district to hold Republicans who continue to vote in lockstep with President Bush and against children accountable."

The name of the campaign is “Putting Children First." The initial ad buy is for one week.

The ad running against Lincoln Diaz-Balart says: "El Presidente Bush en contra de los niños estadounidenses. El Congresista Diaz-Balart tiene que tomar una decisión entre el seguro médico para 10 millones de niños o en continuar su apoyo a Presidente Bush, quien esta dispuesto a quitárselos. Dígale a Lincoln Diaz-Balart que escoja a nuestros niños."

English Translation: "President Bush versus America's kids. Congressman Diaz-Balart has a choice: health care for 10 million children or continue to stand with Bush to block it. Tell Lincoln Diaz-Balart to choose our kids."

Mario Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen have similar ads targeting them.

And of course, they’re running with a disclaimer: “The DCCC is responsible for the content of this advertising, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.”

Which brings up the fact that there are no Democratic announced candidates for the three seats. Former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez has been in the news as a possible candidate against Lincoln Diaz-Balart, but hasn’t announced.

The election is still 13 months away. But the campaigns have started. Look out, you anti-kid Republicans! There’s a landslide coming!

The Miami Herald hopped on the story quickly -- a link to the Herald story.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Facebook group grows like topsy against Republican congressmen

They called it "South Floridians for New Leadership" and got it started on Facebook last week, Oct. 4. Its targets are the three Republican members of Congress in Miami-Dade County, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21) and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25). Within a few hours it had more Facebook signups than its targets did, and now it's around 150. If you're on FaceBook, sign up and join. Otherwise, sign up for Facebook, and then join. Here's the link to the site.

Thanks to the students at Florida International University for starting the group.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Mario Loves Bush

Pushing Rope notes the percentage of the time Florida Republicans vote in line with President Bush, one of the worst presidents in American history. Not surprisingly, Mario loves Bush:

2007 - 71%
2006 - 90%

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mario Diaz-Balart office draws protests

There is a sea of right-wing media around here, but sometimes we manage to get a few syllables of protest on the local news. This weekend was one such example, and the MainStream Media were not immune to our charms.

The local CBS outlet, Channel 4, covered two anti-war protests Saturday with considerable Democratic input, one on South Beach, the other a march to the office of Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. Here’s a link to the video, which wrapped in protests in Washington and the president’s radio address.

Another local event, a rally to kick off a drive to impeach President Bush, got a few lines in the Miami Herald in the local news briefs, but that wasn’t bad considering that NBC Channel 6 sent a crew but didn’t broadcast a report. That event was sponsored by the South Florida Impeachment Coalition (LINK) with local speakers and featuring a stemwinder by David Swanson, a cofounder of AfterDowningStreet.org.

“Who will do for Bush what Monica did for Clinton?” Swanson asked the full-house crowd in the Unitarian Universalist Church, and nine people volunteered to help.

Swanson ticked off all the reasons people give for saying impeachment is impossible and argued persuasively that the reasons were bogus.

Not enough time, for instance: It took three months to approach impeachment of Richard Nixon, two months for Bill Clinton, he said. Plenty of time.

Activist Diane Lawrence vowed to lead protests at Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ office, up to refusing to leave. “If that’s what we need to get attention, that’s what we will do,” she said.

Swanson was introduced by Nicole Sandler of WINZ 940 AM. She has taken over the early-morning time slot where she formerly worked with Jim DeFede, who has left WINZ. Sandler said her news director has given her the go-ahead to feature impeachment, so expect that topic with your granola and progressive tea.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mario Diaz-Balart Resources

For those interested in learning more about Mario, here are a list of relevant resources:

FPC Wiki Page

Official House Site

Wikipedia Page

Congresspedia Page

WaPo Voting Database

FEC Report

On the Issues

Open Secrets.org

Project Vote Smart

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mario Hates Children and the Elderly

Congress recently had a chance to help out children and seniors across the country. Guess which way the Florida delegation voted?

FL-1: Jeff Miller (R) - Nay
FL-2: Allen Boyd (D) - Yea
FL-3: Corrine Brown (D) - Yea
FL-4: Ander Crenshaw (R) - Did not vote
FL-5: Ginny Brown-Waite (R) - Nay
FL-6: Cliff Stearns (R) - Nay
FL-7: John Mica (R) - Nay
FL-8: Ric Keller (R) - Nay
FL-9: Gus Bilirakis (R) - Nay
FL-10: CW Bill Young (R) - Nay
FL-11: Kathy Castor (D) - Yea
FL-12: Adam Putnam (R) - Nay
FL-13: Vern Buchanan (R) - Nay
FL-14: Connie Mack (R) - Nay
FL-15: Dave Weldon (R) - Nay
FL-16: Tim Mahoney (D) - Yea
FL-17: Kendrick Meek (D) - Yea
FL-18: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) - Nay
FL-19: Robert Wexler (D) - Yea
FL-20: Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) - Yea
FL-21: Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R) - Nay
FL-22: Ron Klein (D) - Yea
FL-23: Alcee Hastings (D) - Yea
FL-24: Tom Feeney (R) - Nay
FL-25: Mario Diaz-Balart (R) - Nay

Let these people know what you think about them. Go to their page at the FPC Wiki to find their contact info.

Monday, August 13, 2007

DCCC Web Site

The national congressional campaign committee has a web site devoted to Mario -- GOP Auction House. Check it out to learn more about Diaz-Balart.

Friday, August 3, 2007


This is a new local blog for Florida's twenty-fifth Congressional district and watching the actions of Mario Diaz-Balart, the Republican representative who misserves us in Washington.

If you are interested in posting at Say No to Mario, drop me a line at quinnelk@hotmail.com with some idea of your Democratic and/or progressive credentials and I'll add you as a blogger.