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Political Stuff (the kind that gets me banned)

America’s War Machine: Local Journalist Releases Essential Look at Military Industrial Complex

51Ob-U5njxL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_After decades covering defense and foreign policy stories in Washington, journalist James McCartney devoted his retirement to writing a book about what he had learned about the military-industrial complex. No small surprise, the MIC is alive and well — nearly 55 years after McCartney, as a reporter just starting out, heard President Eisenhower’s historic 1961 speech that carried his blunt warning about the danger and long term ramifications of an unchecked MIC.

Sadly, James McCartney passed away before he could complete the book, but his wife, Molly Sinclair McCartney, took over where he left off, finishing the book now published and titled “America’s War Machine: Vested Interests, Endless Conflict” (St. Martin’s Press, October 2015). Molly Sinclair McCartney is a noted journalist in her own right, having reported for the Miami Herald and the Washington Post.

William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, reviewed the book on Huffington Post, describing it as a “crisp, clear analysis of the state of the MIC more than 50 years after Eisenhower and his advisors coined the term. The authors deploy dozens of examples to make their case that unfortunately, the MIC is alive and well, with an outsized role in determining not only how much to spend on the Pentagon, but also on whether the country is at war or at peace.” Read the full book review here.

Molly Sinclair McCartney will discuss “America’s War Machine: Vested Interests, Endless Conflicts,” at 2 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Manatee County Central Library, 1301 Barcarrota Blvd., Bradenton and at 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at Florida Veterans for Common Sense, Firehouse, 2070 Waldemere St., Sarasota. The book is available on

Posted on December 3rd, 2015 Comments Off on America’s War Machine: Local Journalist Releases Essential Look at Military Industrial ComplexComments RSS Feed

Anne-Marie Slaughter headlines this year’s Renaissance Luncheon

Anne-Marie Slaughter

If you’re unaware of the myriad offerings of the Women’s Resource Center, a great opportunity to learn more is coming up quickly: On Tues., March 12, the Center hosts its biggest fundraising event of the year — the Renaissance Luncheon — at the Ritz-Carlton.

“For our donors, [the luncheon] lets them know the good programs and services their money is supporting,” Executive Director Janice Zarro explained to me last year. It’s “an opportunity to showcase our values and the impact we are having on our community.”

And that impact is significant.

Each year, nearly 13,000 women take advantage of the Center’s varied programs, which include everything from peer referral counseling, finance education and Excel spreadsheet training to lessons on starting and managing a business. On the personal side, they offer classes in navigating life as a widow, learning yoga, handling divorce, bouncing back from adversity and creating the life you desire – just to name a few.

The Renaissance Luncheon is a cornerstone in helping the Center continue to do what it does for the women of our community and has developed into a can’t-miss event — attracting close to 600 men and women who want to support the Center and draw insights from the outstanding keynote speakers.  The theme for this year’s luncheon is “Redefining Balance,” and the keynote speaker is Anne-Marie Slaughter, the author of the much-discussed and controversial 2012 Atlantic essay, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.”

The event begins with boutique shopping at 10:30 a.m., followed at noon by lunch and Slaughter’s talk. It also includes drawings for prizes and a silent auction — some of the goodies include a five-course meal for eight, courtesy of Zest! of Sarasota catering.

A ticket for the luncheon will run you $95; you can purchase one online by clicking here.

Posted on February 26th, 2013 Comments Off on Anne-Marie Slaughter headlines this year’s Renaissance LuncheonComments RSS Feed

Sarasota News Leader now publishing full issues — sign up to get them!

The cover of Sarasota News Leader issue No. 2

The Sarasota News Leader —  a new, online-only local news outlet I blogged about back in June — recently hit another milestone, when it unveiled its first full e-edition — a long compendium of important stories about what’s happening in Sarasota County.

You can read the publication on all your tablet devices, or you can flip through the pages online. You can even download a full PDF version of each issue. All for free. Just head to and sign up, and they’ll send you the new issue first thing every Friday morning.

This week’s issue is full of good stuff: Cooper Levey-Baker on the county’s move to reexamine its Noise Ordinance, Rachel Brown Hackney on proposed charter schools not meeting state curriculum standards and Stan Zimmerman on deleted emails down at City Hall. Sign up, and don’t miss another issue.

Posted on October 1st, 2012 Comments Off on Sarasota News Leader now publishing full issues — sign up to get them!Comments RSS Feed

“This is what we feed the animals” at the Republican Nat’l Convention

image from

“This is what we feed the animals,” they taunted, while throwing nuts at a black woman. The nutso-nuts-throwers? Attendees on the convention floor inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum during the recent Republican National Convention. Their target? A black camera woman working for CNN.

I first heard about this incident from Amy Goodman when she came to Sarasota on Aug. 31 to speak to a standing-room only crowd at WSLR. There hasn’t been much media attention to the incident that I’ve seen. According to a report on, the camera woman, Patricia Carroll, who happens to be an Alabama native, has made this statement about the incident, “This is Florida, and I’m from the Deep South. You come to places like this, you can count the black people on your hand. They see us doing things they don’t think I should do.”

The article also quoted Carroll as saying, “This situation could happen to me at the Democratic convention or standing on the street corner. Racism is a global issue.”

Posted on September 7th, 2012 Comments (3)Comments RSS Feed

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman challenges corporate media at WSLR

Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan (Photo by David Belisle, via

The day after covering Mitt Romney’s official acceptance of the Republican presidential nomination in Tampa, independent radio stalwart Amy Goodman and her co-author, Denis Moynihan, drove south to Sarasota, to pay a visit to WSLR 96.5 LPFM and to promote their new book, The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope.

For many years, Goodman has hosted Democracy Now!, a radio program dedicated to covering social and economic justice movements. The program is broadcast all around the country by independent radio stations; WSLR plays it at 2 p.m. each weekday.

Goodman spoke at WSLR for more than an hour to a crowd that numbered well over 100. She talked about her recent work covering the Republican National Convention — focusing on her efforts to question oil billionaire David Koch and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and criticizing the mainstream media for not aggressively investigating the intersection of money and politics.

In fact, while Goodman spent plenty of time lambasting America’s corrupt political system and praising progressive grassroots causes, her main target was the media, and, in particular, corporate ownership. The “silenced majority” that gives her book her title are the poor and marginalized in our society, as well as the victims of war worldwide, she said. Goodman blamed the media for shutting out dissenting voices, and broadcasting only those that don’t challenge corporate power.

Talking about national politics, she made a salient point about how progressive causes seemed to relax after the election of Barack Obama, which opened the door for an enormous right-wing backlash, and allowed Democratic leaders to back away from campaign promises they had made. The lesson? Grassroots movements can never give up, and must always be aggressive in demanding change.

Goodman and Moynihan’s Sarasota stop was the first in a 100-city trip to promote the new book. They’ll be in Charlotte, N.C., this week, covering the Democratic National Convention with the same zeal with which they approached the Republican gathering. Give ’em hell, Amy.

Posted on September 4th, 2012 Comments Off on Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman challenges corporate media at WSLRComments RSS Feed

When did activism become anarchism?

It’s nothing but sad to see, read, and hear about the millions upon millions of dollars being spent for the RNC, and the DNC,to be fair, to “protect” the cities from so-called “anarchists” — or what some might call activists, or what others might call Americans just doing their duty — registering their public complaint against policies, people, parties. Um, sort of like the tea tax protestors of yore.

Everywhere you read — people who want to peaceably protest are being labelled anarchists. It’s the kind of hyperbole that deranges our nation. Jiminy cricket, when did activism become anarchism?

Heidi Boghosian at WSLR, Aug. 25, 2012

Went to WSLR last night to hear Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyer’s Guild, and co-host of the weekly civil liberties radio show, “Law and Disorder,” (which airs on WSLR on Sundays at 10 a.m.). I felt pretty uninformed sitting there in the audience and hearing about documented incidences of “snatch squads” — where protest leaders have literally been snatched from the street by hooded (identity concealed) law enforcement officers and stuffed into a van. Heard about a lot of other things too — things I’m still digesting and don’t fully understand and want to research more. But this much is clear to me — our civil rights are eroding and a lot of us — myself included — aren’t doing anything about it.

I really commend WSLR for providing these kinds of lecture events.

Interesting article about the most notable economic protests — and their outcomes in the Christian Science Monitor

Posted on August 26th, 2012 Comments Off on When did activism become anarchism?Comments RSS Feed

Wine, cheese and the Sarasota News Leader

Put this on your calendar: The Democratic Club of Sarasota is holding another Wine, Cheese & Politics gathering this Wednesday, and the event will feature some of the reporters and editors at the Sarasota News Leader, the new e-publication I’ve both blogged about and written for. The event description is titled “Can Florida Survive Rick Scott?” but plenty of other topics will be covered, including last week’s primary results and this fall’s general election.

Like all Wine, Cheese & Politics events, this Wednesday’s powwow will take place at 6:30 p.m. on the sixth floor at 1350 Main St. in downtown Sarasota. Wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages will be served, along with tasty snacks and sweets.

Posted on August 20th, 2012 Comments (6)Comments RSS Feed

New column: Why Dent’s ‘experience’ isn’t the right kind

The Sarasota News Leader logo

I’m wading into the supervisor of elections primary this week in my first guest column for The Sarasota News Leader, a new online outfit I blogged about back in June.

They publish a fresh slate of stories and columns each Friday, and I’m happy to report they liked a piece I wrote about Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent enough to include it in this week’s edition. To sign up for SNL updates, just enter your email address in the box on the upper right of the homepage; if you’re more of a Facebook fan, head here and click “Like.”

Here’s a taste of what I wrote about Dent (the link to the full version is below):

Earlier this week, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune editorial board recommended Kathy Dent in the supervisor of election race. The board stressed Dent’s on-the-job experience as its deciding factor.

Dent has experience, yes. But it is an experience fraught with incidents of disingenuousness, a lack of full disclosure and missteps that, viewed collectively, render that experience less than impressive. A brief recap:

In August 2006, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), the company that supplied new voting machines to be used in that fall’s elections, notified Dent’s office of some potential problems for users. ES&S instructed Dent to install new posters in voting halls to insure the public was made aware of the proper protocol to follow to make sure their votes were recorded by the new machines. The posters — which Dent, over nearly three months leading up to the election, never did make public or install — would have advised voters to push “firmly” on the touchscreen. The posters would have emphasized that voters must carefully “hold down” their selected candidate’s box “until it is highlighted” — a delayed process that might take several seconds, the posters warned.

Dent’s decision to not put up the new posters during the November elections, which included the contentious race between Christine Jennings and Vern Buchanan, was inexplicable. But what followed was even more confounding.

Despite the fallout of 18,000 votes unaccounted for, despite the loud outcry from the public and media searching for any information that might help make sense of what had happened to those missing votes, despite the national spotlight that once again cast a pall over Florida voting practices, Dent’s office was not forthcoming about the ES&S warning letter and the recommended posters. When the existence of both was brought to light some time later by other sources on the Internet, the silence from Dent’s office, in retrospect, was deafening.

Click here to read the piece in full. If you’re a registered Republican, be sure to cast a vote in the Kathy Dent/Jon Thaxton primary that ends next Tuesday. And if you like what I had to say, let the SNL editors know about it.

Posted on August 10th, 2012 Comments (4)Comments RSS Feed

Pelican Press alumnus launches new online Sarasota news outlet

Sarasota News Leader Editor Rachel Brown Hackney

It’s rare to report about a new publication opening up shop, but I’m happy to pass along the news: Former Pelican Press Editor Rachel Brown Hackney has launched a new electronic publication dedicated to all things local. The name? The Sarasota News Leader.

Right now, it looks like your typical blog, but the long-term goal of the outlet is to become an electronic weekly, similar in flavor to the Pelican, but delivered via electronic tablets like iPads and Kindles. The staff will be covering city and county government, the school board and community news, and publishing investigative pieces to boot.

The site dubs itself “the progressive voice of SW Florida,” a voice those involved feel isn’t represented in local media, with the Observer Group’s cuts at the Pelican and the Herald-Tribune‘s buyout of Creative Loafing.

Hackney, who spent years at the Pelican, isn’t alone in her endeavor. Longtime Pelican reporter and former Patch contributor Stan Zimmerman is breaking news regularly at City Hall; his latest scoop is the news that some city officials are not currently bonded, a violation of our charter. The publication’s editorial board called the revelation “yet another scandal” rocking City Hall and “erod[ing] the confidence of citizens.”

The site also features county reporting from former Creative Loafing and Florida Independent Editor Cooper Levey-Baker. He broke the news about potential Department of Justice intervention in Kathy Dent’s plan to consolidate voting precincts around the county. Others contributing to the publication include Staff Writer Robert Ross, Contributing Photographer Norman Schimmel, Contributing Writers David Staats and Fran Palmeri, A&E Writer Elinor Rogosin and General Manager Robert S. Hackney, Rachel’s husband.

The plan for now is for the staff to keep blogging to build credibility and buzz, and then launch the full-fledged e-weekly come August. Can a new publication make a dent in the Observer– and Herald-Tribune-dominated local media universe? I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Posted on June 11th, 2012 Comments (5)Comments RSS Feed

No Impact Man makes a big impact (on me)

I’m full of all kinds of movie recommendations this month! The trailer above is for the documentary No Impact Man, which tracks one family’s quest to reduce its waste to zero over the course of a year. The man who hatched the scheme, Colin Beavan, stops using electricity, watching TV and using gas-powered transportation — dragging his initially skeptical family through the process as well.

The Beavans

No, I’m not planning on following in Beaven’s footsteps, but the film offers a ton of practical ideas for how to live a more sustainable life, and I encourage you to check it out. It’s available on DVD now (and there’s also a related book).

Posted on May 21st, 2012 Comments Off on No Impact Man makes a big impact (on me)Comments RSS Feed