The Case Against Cliff

This is a new local blog for Florida's sixth Congressional district and watching the actions of Cliff Stearns, the Republican representative who misserves us in Washington. If you are interested in posting at The Case Against Cliff, drop me a line at with some idea of your Democratic and/or progressive credentials and I'll add you as a blogger.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


This blog is being closed and further updates will be featured on Florida Congress Watch. Check us out over there.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Capitol Offense: Where Is Congress on the Public Option

Today, I'm joining with Democracy for America, Health Care for America Now and Open Left in supporting the Stand With Dr. Dean Campaign. The idea is to put pressure on our members of Congress to find out where they stand on health care reform and whether or not they support Dr. Howard Dean's call for a reform that includes a public option. See Dean's statement here:

Chris Bowers has suggested that we use crowdsourcing techniques to find out where everyone in Congress stands, which also helps pressure them to take the right stand. So here's the plan:

1. Contact your member of Congress via e-mail and ask them the following questions:

1--Do you support a public healthcare option as part of healthcare reform?
2--If so, do you support a public healthcare option that is available on day one?
3--Do you support a public healthcare option that is national, available everywhere, and accountable to Congress?
4--Do you support a public healthcare option that can bargain for rates from providers and big drug companies?

Don't call, do this via e-mail because we want a written response. If they are vague in answering these questions, contact them again and ask for clarification. If they don't answer you, keep contacting them (and have your friends and family contact them) until they do give you the answers.

2. Forward the responses to me at We're going to publish an official response from as many of our members as possible so we know where everyone is. And we'll keep a track of who isn't responding so we know who to put pressure on. Similarly, once we find out who is on board and who isn't, we know who to put further pressure on down the road.

3. If you have your own blog, post the responses there, too. The more public pressure we can put on Congress, the easier we make it for them to do the right thing.

Here is the public contact info for each of our Florida members of Congress:

Rep Gus Bilirakis R FL-9

Rep Allen Boyd D FL-2

Rep Corrine Brown D FL-3

Rep Virginia Brown-Waite R FL-5

Rep Vern Buchanan R FL-13

Rep Kathy Castor D FL-11

Rep Ander Crenshaw R FL-4

Rep Lincoln Diaz-Balart R FL-21

Rep Mario Diaz-Balart R FL-25

Rep Alan Grayson D FL-8

Rep Alcee Hastings D FL-23

Rep Ron Klein D FL-22

Rep Suzanne Kosmas D FL-24

Rep Connie Mack R FL-14

Sen Melquiades Martinez R FL

Rep Kendrick Meek D FL-17

Rep John Mica R FL-7

Rep Jeff Miller R FL-1

Sen Bill Nelson D FL

Rep Bill Posey R FL-15

Rep Adam Putnam R FL-12

Rep Tom Rooney R FL-16

Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen R FL-18

Rep Clifford Stearns R FL-6

Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz D FL-20

Rep Robert Wexler D FL-19

Rep C. W. Bill Young R FL-10

We'll also post the results of these at the WatchBlogs dedicated to each Republican member and at the Florida Democratic News blog.

You can also sign the petition on health care here.

I'm Kenneth Quinnell and I approve this message.

Read more on Florida politics at the Florida Progressive Coalition blog ( and the Florida Progressive Coalition Wiki (

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cliff Embarrasses Us Again (and Again)

It has been a very bad month for constituents of the Sixth District of Florida. Cliff Stearns has risen to new levels of embarrassment for the district.

On January 7, he achieved the honor of being Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World". He achieved that honor by asking Nancy Pelosi to delay votes in the House so that he could attend the college football national championship game:

One week later, he joined with 136 of his fellow Republican child-haters, in voting against the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009. Why does Cliff not want children to have health insurance?

This week, Cliff has topped himself, by taking to the internet with a posting at, which bills itself as "Headquarters of the Conservative Underground". I don't think they are quite far enough underground.

Here is Cliff's latest burst of genius:
That is why I, along with Representative Rich Boucher (D-Va.) introduced H.R. 197, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. Our legislation proposes a federal law that would entitle any person with a valid state-issued concealed carry permit to carry in any other state, as follows: In a state that issues carry permits, its laws would apply. In states that don’t issue carry permits, the Federal law providing a "bright-line" standard would permit carrying in places other than police stations; courthouses; public polling places; meetings of state, county, or municipal governing bodies; schools; passenger areas of airports; etc. The bright-light standard in itself is not a license -- the individual would still have to possess a valid state permit issued by their state of residence. It doesn't make sense to me for Americans to forfeit their safety because they happen to be on vacation or on a business trip. This legislation would greatly enhance the safety of this nation's ever-increasing mobile society.

That's right, Cliff wants to make it possible for people from a state that allows concealed weapons permits to carry concealed weapons in states that do not allow their own citizens to carry. What ever happened to the old conservative mantra of "states' rights"? Shouldn't a state be able to decide on its own that it doesn't want concealed weapons to be carried?

Stearns goes on to claim that violence rates have dropped steadily in states with concealed carry laws. However, as pointed out in the Ocala Star Banner:
Yet a spokesman for a leading gun control group cautioned against putting too much faith in the safety or constitutional arguments for the Stearns-Boucher bill.

For one thing, Florida is a "terrible example" of the effectiveness of concealed-carry laws, said Doug Pennington, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Pennington pointed out that the same FBI reports Stearns relies on show that since 1987, when Florida enacted its concealed weapons law, until 2004, the state was the most violent, or second-most violent, state in America. The most recent report had it fifth.

"Exporting the Florida model to the rest of the country is probably not the greatest policy idea ever conceived," Pennington said.

A visit to the Brady Campaign's website provides even more good information on the lunacy of those who promote the radical right's agenda of more guns for everyone. Take this, for example:
In the four years since the federal assault weapons ban expired on September 15, 2004, at least 163 people have been killed and 185 wounded with military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, including at least 38 police officers killed or wounded, according to a report being issued today by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

But finally, as they state on the main part of their website, the Brady Campaign tells us that in 2004, murderers used guns to kill 5 people in New Zealand, 37 in Sweden, 56 in Austrailia, 73 in England and Wales, 184 in Canada and 11,344 in the United States. Those guns are doing a heckuva job, just like Cliff.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Friend of Cliff

I was checking out the website Friends of Cliff Stearns ( and found the following photo:The caption at the website informs us that Cliff is posing with Retired Iraqi Major General Georges Sada. The picture was taken on October 19, 2006 at the annual Black Tie and Barbecue thrown by the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee. Sada is the author of Saddam's Secrets, in which he makes the claim that prior to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Saddam secretly shipped all of his weapons of mass destruction to Syria.

When the book first came out in January of 2006, Sada was of course immediately spirited to Fox News where he was able to spout his claims with Sean Hannity. A YouTube of that interview can be seen here. A breathless article repeating Sada's claims also was published in the New York Sun.

In the Sun article, Sada makes these claims:

Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.

"I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots," Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.

The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including "yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel." The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.

The flights - 56 in total, Mr. Sada said - attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.

There are major problems with Sada's claims. First of all, the Iraq Survey Group, a United States effort headed by Charles Duelfer, produced a 1000 page study in October, 2004 that found that Iraq did not possess WMD's prior to the invasion. As reported by BBC:

Iraq Survey Group head Charles Duelfer said Iraq's nuclear capability had decayed not grown since the 1991 war.

But in a 1,000-page report his group said Saddam Hussein intended to resume production of banned weapons when UN sanctions were lifted.

So, first of all, Saddam had all of his WMD's destroyed after the first Gulf War. However, there's even a further hole in Sada's claims. It turns out that the UN was in charge of the humanitarian relief efforts for the dam collapse in Syria in June, 2002 and a report on those efforts is still available.

From the Executive Summary of the report:
The large Zeyzoun earth dam, located in the agricultural Al-Ghab region some 300 km north of Damascus, collapsed on 4 June 2002. The impact of the released water caused serious damage in nearby populated areas with resultant casualties .

To date some 20 people are known to have been killed, and this figure is not likely to change. It is estimated that over 10,000 people were directly affected by this incident to varying degrees, with at least 2,000 rendered completely homeless.

Six days after the disaster, it is considered that the humanitarian situation resulting from this accident is largely under control as a result of a swift and targeted response by the Provincial and Central Syrian authorities. A rapid reaction by the international community, which sent large quantities of emergency supplies, also contributed to quickly stabilize the situation.
Drilling down for further detail, here is how Iraq is credited for its role in the relief efforts:
Iraq has sent 12 airplanes with food, medicines and blankets, and also dispatched a 12-member medical team.
The scale of the relief effort for the dam collapse is just too small for Iraq to have hidden an additional 56 flights beyond those documented by the UN, since the other flights noted were two from Algeria, one from Italy, four from Morocco, one from Saudi Arabia and one from the United Arab Emirates. For Iraq to have hidden an extra 56 flights in the effort, one would think the overall relief effort should have been several hundreds of flights. Further, since Sada says only two Iraqi planes were involved in the weapons transfer, it's hard to see how two planes can move 56 flights of dangerous cargo in a six day window.

Sada's story just doesn't hold up under even the slightest scrutiny, yet Cliff is happy to pose with him as a friend to stay in the good graces of the radical right wing of the Republican party that idolizes war and Sean Hannity.