Sunday, July 23, 2006


Candidates in race for distinction



Voters in Florida's Republican primary have a choice between two major
candidates for governor who are remarkably similar but who will devote the
next five weeks to telling voters why they are very different.

Attorney General Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher are
both Cabinet officials who have spent most of their adult lives as bachelors
in public office. Both have been education commissioners and state
legislators and have amassed record amounts of campaign contributions.

And each believes he is the true conservative heir to Gov. Jeb Bush, who
can't run again because of term limits.


Boca Raton man wants religious discourse to take left turn

Spiritual Progressives want to shift debate to issues of poverty, health
care, peace.

By Lois K. Solomon
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

July 23, 2006

Tom Tift believes it's time for spiritual discourse to take a left turn.

Tift, a staffer at First United Methodist Church of Boca Raton, wants to
ignite a Palm Beach County movement that swings religious talk in America
away from the right. He says the Republican Party has dominated
religious-political discussions for too long.

"The left needs to find its spiritual voice in American politics," said
Tift, 55, a father of two raised as a Baptist. "It's a grass-roots effort to
change the spiritual focus of the nation."

Tift has joined the Network of Spiritual Progressives, a national group
founded by Rabbi Michael Lerner of California. The group seeks to refocus
national religious discussions away from abortion, gay marriage and school
prayer and to issues such as poverty, health care, peace and disarmament.


Democratic hopefuls rein in rhetoric at Fort Lauderdale debate
Davis, Smith trade verbal jabs during gubernatorial debate

By Anthony Man
Political writer

July 23, 2006

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Capping off a week in which they sharpened their campaign
trail attacks on each other, the Democratic candidates for governor softened
their barbs Saturday night during a debate in which they differed far more
on style than substance.

Differences on issues between U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa and state Sen.
Rod Smith of Alachua were virtually imperceptible.

Both vowed change from eight years of Republican Gov. Jeb Bush's reign,
promising increased salaries for teachers, less emphasis on punitive
elements of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests in the public
schools, and fixes for the problem of skyrocketing insurance premiums.

The debate format precluded rebuttals from the candidates and didn't create
many opportunities for back and forth. Their remarks were drawn largely from
the speeches and interviews they've been giving across the state.


The Washington Post

The GOP Lag Among Latinos
By David S. Broder
Sunday, July 23, 2006; B07

Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida is one frustrated and worried Republican.

For six years, first as secretary of housing and urban development and more recently as a senator, the Cuban refugee has labored to build support for President Bush and other Republicans among his fellow Hispanics.

But now, he said in an interview, "I see us throwing it away" in the fight that has split the GOP on the immigration issue.

I went to see Martinez the morning after NDN -- an affiliate of the Democratic Party -- released a survey of Hispanic voters who predominantly speak Spanish. It showed a sharp decline in their approval of Bush and the GOP. A group that makes up 5 percent of the electorate and that has been the source of striking Republican gains in the past two presidential races is turning away.
Bush's favorability rating has sunk from the 60 percent level to 38 percent among these voters, and Democrats as a party lead the GOP by 24 percentage points.


Forwarded from: Michael Emanuel Rajner
Secretary, National Executive Committee
Campaign To End AIDS

For those of us that live with HIV/AIDS, we must remember to wake everyday
knowing that we will make a difference.
Attempting to manage our daily
lives, the burden of medical appointments and other inconveniences, we must
always remember that we stimulate positive change.

Similar to last Saturday evening, tonight was another great night for us
that live with HIV/AIDS. I attended the annual Jefferson-Jackson Florida
Democratic Party in order to have some face time with some of our elected
officials and candidates for various offices. At first I was very
discouraged with the evening as the words HIV/AIDS were never mentioned!
However, to my pleasure, I had two separate and private opportunities to
speak with United States Senator Bill Nelson on concerns that impact the
HIV/AIDS community here in Florida and other parts of the United States.

While speaking with Senator Nelson, I shared with him the situation of an
HIV+ individual that is about to loose his health coverage as a result of
not being able to afford a monthly premium of $1,550.00. As a result this
individual will now be among the several thousand of Broward Residents that
rely on the Ryan White CARE Act for care, services and treatment. He was
saddened to hear this news and in response raised the concern of what senior
citizens are experiencing with Medicare's Coverage Part D. I quickly opened
my wallet and presented him my Medicare card and reassured him that senior
citizens and disability recipients are together going through a difficult
time. At first he had the look of surprise so I continued to explain how
the $6,000 deductible/co-pay for some individuals with HIV/AIDS will force
them to discontinue their HIV medications for lack of access to treatment
and continued to explain how program such as the AIDS Insurance Continuation
Program (AICP) and other programs are barred from paying Medicare premiums,
co-pays and deductibles. Minutes later I shared this very same story with
Gubernatorial Candidate Rod Smith, he too was a bit bewildered.

As individuals who experience these issues on a daily basis, we must harness
opportunities such as these to confront our leaders and help them understand
the communities in which we advocate for so our elected leaders can
formulate public policy that will in turn respond to unmet needs in our
community at-large.

There were some other great moments tonight where I was reassured by some of
our leaders that do care and in time those leaders will provide our
community with the representation we deserve. It is incumbent upon us to
demand our government to respond to the needs of those living with HIV/AIDS.


The New York Times

July 23, 2006

Senate Bill Would Open Gas and Oil Fields in Gulf

WASHINGTON, July 22 — Senate Republicans have agreed on legislation that would open four times as much of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling as the Bush administration was seeking, and a vote on the bill is expected next week.

The Senate’s only energy measure with a chance to pass this year, the bill would open more than eight million acres of the gulf to new drilling for oil and natural gas.

The bill is more ambitious than the administration’s plan to open just two million acres for a five-year period, starting in 2007. But it is more narrowly tailored than a bill the House passed last month that would open even more areas of the gulf as well as waters of the Outer Continental Shelf in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Neither bill includes energy conservation provisions, which many Democrats say should be part of any effort to address the nation’s steadily rising energy costs.