Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, government, public policy, sports scene and pop culture of Europe, Sweden, the U.S. & South Florida. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura.
Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

That's why he's Michael Barone and you're not: When Liberal Leaders Confront a Centrist Nation

I've been reading and following columnist and pundit
Michael Barone since even before I moved to D.C.
in 1988, or even before he was a regular on the original
Group, when that was the only
syndicated political chat show, and everyone I knew
watched it religiously.


It's still a LOT more popular in the Beltway area
than in the uninformed burbs of South Florida, plus,
now that I think about it, I rarely see a promo for it
on WPBT-Channel 2 -why is that anyhow?-
where it runs on Fridays at 8:30 p.m.

(At various times while I lived in the greater D.C. area,
especially the Clinton years of the go-go Nineties,
I used to bank at the Riggs Bank, specifically, the
branch on 17th Street, N.W. & Eye St., three blocks
north of The White House and the OEOB.

This was the sort of place where on payday, Fridays,
you'd regularly see very well-heeled K Street D.C.
defense lawyer or lobbyists doing their weekly
transactions, like transferring money into their college
daughter's checking account so she can continue
living the McLean or Potomac lifestyle while they
were away from the financial Mother Ship.
No doubt while their daughter's roommate has to do
a 'Work Study' job like I did at IU.

Almost like it was a game, one of the persons who
always seemed to just beat me into the bank was
a highly-visible someone who always seemed to be
just 2-3 customers ahead of me in line: McLaughlin
Group regular Eleanor Clift of Newsweek magazine.)

In D.C, McLaughlin aired on the NBC affiliate,
WRC, and was part of my regular routine on
Saturday night before heading out for the night.

This essay was part of my daily email this from
Rasmussen Reports this morning.

The big news this morning there was that American
voters now give the GOP first-time lead on health
That comes as no surprise to me given what we've
all seen the past few weeks, with so many uninformed
members of Congress unable to explain what
Obamacare would and would not entail, to voters
who have actually read the bill, or, explain away the
logic of so much secretiveness surrounding 1/6th
of the American economy.

For all the MSM talk in January and February of
David Axelrod's folks being so oh-so smart and
Chicago street-savvy, it's as if they never learned
the fundamental lessons of President Bush's
(irresponsible) immigration amnesty plan of two years
ago, which also featured no congressional hearings
that voters (and members of Congress and the
) could watch or follow to become better
acquainted with the actual facts and provisions.

But when you insist on NOT having congressional
hearings where representatives of The White House
have to make their case publicly, and then have groups
opposed speaking against those policy ideas but for
others, you're asking for trouble.

But then you compound that fatal flaw by also insisting
on doing everything behind-the-scenes, even to the
point of refusing to publicly release the names of health
care leaders meeting with West Wing types, just as
was the case with Hillarycare in 1993, or groups
like La Raza working on the Kennedy bill at the
Bush White House, it's perfectly logical that people
would be very suspicious, especially middle-class
people who are usually apathetic -and proud of it-
about most aspects of American public policy.

People who find it easy to tune out discussions o
f the
legal ramifications of McCain-Feingold
or redistricting
-see www.FairDistrictsFlorida.org- while they eagerly
wax philosophic, blog and Tweet about the particular
merits of one singer over another on a TV show I never
watch like American Idol.

(I used to see the last two minutes when they bleed
over to
HOUSE's time-slot.)

Given that predicate, what's really surprising is that
The White House, DNC and Beltway press are so
surprised at the reaction of the American people.

It was entirely predictable.

Here's what I wrote on the Herald's webpage last
Thursday to the dreadful -what else is new?- Beth
column about the town meetings on health

Tempers flare in South Florida over healthcare overhaul


To me, this town hall/Obamacare issue has really
pinpointed the Herald's central identity problem,
in that they are now so short-staffed and so very
poorly edited -but still more smug and arrogant
than reality ought to allow
- that they now cover
local South Florida stories like they're parachuted
out-of-town reporters who arrive with their misplaced
preconceptions, false stereotypes and condescending
know-it-all persona, who want to treat everything
down here in South Florida as either precious,
eccentric or unique, even if it isn't.
It's the Iowa Caucus Syndrome.

Like our crime and corruption isn't really crime and
corruption, with an emotional and physical toll
victims, like other cities and regions, but rather
a local lifestyle choice.

That's the same attitude and response I run into when

I try to explain just some of the many unethical and
shady things are going on at Hallandale Beach City Hall,
and they turn to me and say,
"That's just Hallandale Beach."

In the
Herald's case, that has been made all the worse by
their increasingly wasting half their
column space by writing
about how other reporters
elsewhere have characterized
similar events,
contaminating the local perspective, rather
accurately reporting and illuminating what happened
right in front
of them -HERE!

This is both insulting
AND infuriating, besides being bad
journalism that doesn't serve local
readers, that no matter
how much I want to give
Herald Executive Editor
Anders Gyllenhaal the benefit of the doubt, at some point,
you can't help but wonder when is the bad dream going
to end?

When is the Herald finally going to shape-up?
Would it be better for the long-term if the Miami Herald
went kaput and something else emerged
from the ashes
that was
actually interested and able to cover local
stories properly?
Or, to use a particularly apt sports
metaphor, addition-by-subtraction?

Just recruit some smart, savvy and enthusiastic grads
from Medill and Ernie Pyle and elsewhere and let 'em
loose on all the unsuspecting pols and crooks
People with smarts and skills who don't care who
Ron Book is or who he knows or whom he
and his daughter
bankroll with campaign contributions,
or even who
rides home to South Florida on his plane

I used to think no, but as I stated a few months ago
on the blog, and even said in an email to Gyllenhaal
last year, that he responded to, the question of the
Herald's future is increasingly not a rooting matter for me,
but more an
academic or sporting proposition.
When does it all fall apart for good?

HallandaleBeachBlog wrote on 08/07/2009 04:54:25 AM:

What do these Obamacare stories and the tea-bag stories have in common? The Herald being VERY late to the party in covering them, and reporting on something in their own area like they were tourists, sporting cliches we've all heard on TV for days already.

Not surprising given that the Herald NEVER wrote a single thing about the 4,000-plus turnout at the Orlando "tea party" on March 21st. No articles, no photos, no nothing.

That's really surprising since any time you get that many people in an apathetic FL city to do anything at one time, it's newsworthy.

Just NOT to the editors of the Miami Herald, apparently, a paper that never used the phrase until March 21st, weeks AFTER the topic had gained national currency.

What do the candidates seeking to succeed Meek think about Obamacare or 'cap and trade'?

Can't say, the Herald's reporters and the rest of SoFL media won't ask them.

Maybe I should just call them and put their answers on my blog, so people in SoFL will know their views, huh?

And now, the feature presentation...

When Liberal Leaders Confront a Centrist Nation
A Commentary
By Michael Barone
Augusts 13, 2009,

There are more conservatives than Republicans and more Democrats than liberals. That's one of the asymmetries between the parties that helps to explain the particular political spot we're in. The numbers are fairly clear. In the 2008 exit poll, 34 percent of voters described themselves as conservatives and 32 percent as Republicans; 39 percent described themselves as Democrats but only 22 percent as liberals.

Read the rest of the essay at:

Michael Barone archives are at:

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Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach and Hollywood.
If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect.
This is particularly true in the town I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, just north of Aventura and south of Hollywood. There, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent.
Sadly for its residents, HB is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with lots of potential because of its terrific location, yet its citizens have become numb to its outrages and screw-ups after years of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, they wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road.
I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog that could do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable but skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.

Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change. If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY here among Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru simple public scrutiny, or requires a degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of incompetency, cronyism or simple negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.
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New this year: you!

New this year: you!
Close-up photo of the cute head-turning window display at the Apotek Hjärtat -Sweden's largest independent pharmacy chain- located at Ringvägen 113, near the Skanstull T-bana in Södermalm, Stockholm. Sign reads, "Årets nyhet: du! Ett helt nytt och obrukat år är här. Just nu känns det lite lättare att välja om, förändra vanor och bryta gamla mönster. Vi hjälper gärna till. Du vill, du kan, du törs!' (New this year: you! A brand new and unused year is here. Right now it feels a little easier to choose, change habits and break old patterns. We're happy to help. You want to, you can, you dare!) Sounds like good advice that I ought to be following, too! January 12, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Paradise Lost? South Florida

Paradise Lost? South Florida
TIME magazine of November 23, 1981: Paradise Lost? South Florida . Click photo to see original article.

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Hallandale Beach, FL

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Hallandale Beach, FL
City of Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex, 400 S. Federal Highway. The City of Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex: If it's true that a fish rots from the head down, so it does in local government in Broward County, FL. This monument sign on the west side of the intersection of U.S.-1 and S.E. 5th Street, across from Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex, alerts you to your proximity to HB City Hall and the HB Police Department HQ. It's a place and culture whose very own words and actions have made clear to taxpayers of this city -regardless of age, race or income- that it holds itself apart from and above from the very citizens it's supposed to serve, often acting like they don't have to follow the same laws that govern everyone else in the state of Florida and the U.S., whether of logic, reason or contracts. (More to the point of this blog, the Florida Statutes on Sunshine Laws and Public Records.) City employees in Hallandale Beach routinely refuse to answer perfectly reasonable questions posed to them by taxpayers, and as I have found out myself and witnessed, are not above berating you for even having the nerve to ask! As it happens, it's also not a very safe area, despite who operates here, and over the past nine years, the public parking lots have often been pitch-black for 6-9 months at a time, including in front of the HB Police Dept. HQ. Then-Police Chief Thomas Magill even shrugged his shoulders at City Comm. meetings when told about this a few times. As if they couldn't make a worse first impression, at one point, even the spotlights shining on this sign didn't work at night for over FOUR YEARS, either. October 13, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes
Palm tree obstructing the sun at Hallandale Beach City Hall, May 28, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL
Entrance monument to Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and The Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex on U.S.-1 & SE 3rd St. Hallandale Beach, FL. October 5, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Hallandale Beach Water Tower, looking east from State Road A1A/South Ocean Drive; May 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)
Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard) wearing the teal-colored Miami Dolphins cap I gave her in January 2013 (in Stockholm) while recording her 2nd album, "The Grazing Grounds" at Sandkvie Studios in Visby, Gotland, Sweden. Also pictured here are sound engineer and co-producer Linus Larsson and musician/DJ/co-producer Mats Jönsson, April 12, 2013.Click the photo to see her videos, read my blog posts and Tweets about her and learn more about this dynamic and original talent with personality to spare!

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers
Before I was a Hoosier, I was an NMB Charger, Class of 1979.

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation
"In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation." -South Beach Hoosier, 2007.

Let's end the 28-year NCAA title drought!

Let's end the 28-year NCAA title drought!
IU All-American and U.S. Olympian Steve Alford on the cover of the 1987 Indiana University basketball media guide, months after IU won the NCAA basketball title.

The NCAA Championship Banners

The NCAA Championship Banners
Assembly Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. I was there in 1981 for NCAA Title #4 vs. North Carolina. Click on photo to go to the IU Basketball homepage.

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot
Like longtime U-M fans everywhere, including me, Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot, hasn't had very much to cheer about lately, given the general state of mediocrity and underwhelming performances coming from the Hurricanes. Isn't it about time for fans to finally see some tangible signs that the new AD is moving things in the right direction? Where are the signs? I'm NOT seeing them. The woeful U-M Women's program is largely composed of teams that are NOT even close to being competitive for NCAA titles like their ACC competition, and they don't even field Women's Lacrosse or Field Hockey teams. It's embarrassing! Click on Sebastian for retrospective photo gallery of The Orange Bowl


The welcoming party that greeted me at the luggage carousel at Arlanda Stockholm Airport in January of 2013 was... ABBA. As seen in my May 7, 2013 blog post. Click photo to see that post!

Congratulations Sweden - 200 years of peace! Solveig Rundquist (@RundquistS)


Hej #STHLM, jag saknar dig, hejdå. So wish I was there RIGHT NOW!

Using a map of Stockholm and my Samsung mobile's Latitude app to find out where some friends and contacts in Stockholm were before I called to let them know I'd arrived from Arlanda Airport and had checked into the B&B in Södermalm. If only it had been an OpenStreetMap! January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved; Click the photo to see OpenStreetMap's amazing map of Stockholm and a whole world of useful maps you never even knew existed

Solrea - Sveriges bästa resesök

Solrea - Sveriges bästa resesök
The colder and snowier it got in Stockholm, the more this simple ad seemed like genius. Sometimes, you don't have to reinvent the advertising wheel. When you're a travel agency and it's cold and snowing, make your target audience think of summers and traveling to an inviting warm beach. Above, one of the many Sistaminuten.se display ads I saw on the side of pay phones throughout Stockholm. This one was located on Ringvägen, across the street from the Åhléns Dept. store (with the Hemköp grocery store in the basement that I frequented) west of busy Götgatan and the Skanstull T-bana, the southern commercial heart of trendy and fun Södermalm. January 11, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. I used this photo in my April 22, 2013 blog post titled, Tourism game-changer for South Florida travelers & Fort Lauderdale-area businesses -but only if they're smart and start planning now. Ruminations on the upcoming Norwegian.com flights b/w Ft. Lauderdale and Oslo, Stockholm & Copenhagen, and the need for Broward's hospitality industry to take full-advantage of the opportunity; @Oslo, @norway, @stockholm, @sweden, @copenhagen, @denmark. Click photo to see that post

More travel advertising in Stockholm

More travel advertising in Stockholm
Speaking of advertising, only two blocks from the wonderful 4trappor B&B I stayed at in Södermalm, Stockholm on my trip -and also located on Ringvägen- were two more display ads promoting travel. The one in the distance is for SAS, Scandinavian Airlines Systems, which I flew on to Stockholm, and the one in the foreground, on a public telephone booth, is the "Holiday is where the Heart is" ad campaign for VING. January 12, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. Click the photo to see their TV ad!

Risk för snöras, istappar

Risk för snöras, istappar
One of the many such warning signs that I saw on buildings and on sidewalk barricades while in Stockholm in mid-January 2013, alerting you to the possibility of falling snow and ice, often by men shoveling it off roofs. This one was spotted on a residential building in the Södermalm area of Stockholm, on Ringvägen, while I was walking over to the Åhléns Department store on Götgatan. It wasn't until I was walking back later to the B&B that I noticed the inflated Santa that some resident had intentionally placed outside of their window, so it looked like Santa was falling! January 13, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden
Poster display on Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden. January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. The Affischplats plan in Stockholm, while not perfect, strikes me as a pretty good compromise in helping cultural and civic groups catch the public's eye in a way that's better than a free-for-all of groups plastering posters on the sides of buildings and utility boxes, and watching as the weather makes a mess of them. The tangible effort the city makes to get the public involved in a genuine and meaningful conversation about what is going on long-term for the city as a whole, or in a particular neighborhood, is very impressive, and made me wishful that the local government employees and planners where I live and write about regularly in my blog and in conversations with other concerned civic activists did even one-third of what Stockholm's planning employees seem to do as a starting-point.