Wagging the Dog – Iran and the 2020 Election

(NOTE: I submitted this to the Tampa Bay Times as an opinion piece on 5/16/2019. They didn’t publish it.)

While no one can predict the future, it looks like we’re about to go to war with Iran so Donald Trump will be re-elected. Of course, skepticism is warranted, but a close reading of history suggests this may be intentional.

In 1964, the USS Maddox engaged in an exchange of munitions with several North Vietnamese torpedo boats. This incident happened because the USS Maddox entered the territorial waters of North Vietnam at the direction of US leaders. In essence, we provoked the North Vietnamese into attacking us. After this incident, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that gave President Lyndon Johnson the authorization to use conventional military force in Southeast Asia. Basically, we tricked North Vietnam into a confrontation in order to drum up support for a war – the Vietnam War.

The recently claimed acts of sabotage on ships in the Persian Gulf that have been blamed on Iran sound eerily familiar to the claims of North Vietnamese aggression. I’m certainly not suggesting we should trust Iran over US intelligence agencies, but Iran is denying involvement and explicitly claiming that this is an effort to provoke them. Remember: Our political leaders have lied before in order to convince the American people to support wars in the Middle East.

Couple the above with the fact that incumbent Presidents do really well during wars (see here) and it now seems as though there is intentionality to what is happening. Whether or not this was devised by Donald Trump or his advisers is uncertain (I’d guess the later), but it appears to me as though we are headed to a direct confrontation with Iran and that we headed down this road as soon as we pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope Iran really is the aggressor and that the American public are not being manipulated into thinking a war with Iran is justified and that President Trump is the person to lead such a war. But history strongly suggests that we are being manipulated by an unpopular administration to enter a conflict with Iran. I doubt that the only motivation is to bolster Trump’s re-election, but that is a likely consequence if a war with Iran does begin.

We’re still fighting an unending war in Afghanistan, the same location that helped bankrupt the Soviet Union. We’re now threatening a war with Iran to what end? Will Iran be the boogie man that wins Trump re-election? I hope the American public and the American media are less gullible when the administration tries to manipulate us into a war this time.


Tampa Mayoral Election – 2019

I often rely on the Tampa Bay Times to provide useful information on local political elections. Their coverage is usually pretty good. But they don’t always cover every election or every candidate. And since I like to do my own research, I figured I’d start blogging about the elections.

Here’s what I’ve found on the Mayoral candidates. The election is March 5th, 2019.

Jane Castor

Campaign website

Job History:
Former Chief of Police of Tampa.

Unique Features:
Castor has been heavily criticized for a policing policy implemented while she was Chief of Police of stopping people on bicycles, as a disproportionate percentage of those people were black.

Tampa Bay Times officially endorsed Jane Castor for Mayor.

Harry Cohen

Campaign website

Job History:
Lawyer turned public servant. Worked as Chief Deputy Clerk of the Circuit Court of Hillsborough County from 2005-2011. Elected to Tampa City Council in 2011 and re-elected in 2015.

Unique Features:
The only candidate to put together a fairly detailed transportation plan for Tampa.

Dick “Dickie” Greco

Campaign website
Job History:
Unique Features:
Dickie Greco is the latest addition to the candidate pool, announcing his candidacy in early January. He is also the son of Dick Greco, who was mayor of Tampa multiple times.
Party Affiliation:

Michael Anthony Hazard

Campaign websiteTwitter;

Job History:
He’s a Tampa native. His family operates an online human resources and office supply company.

Unique Features:
Hazard is a convicted felon (for bad checks and forgery) who voted illegally in Florida twice (though, this was before the passage of Constitutional Amendment 4 in 2018 that restored the voting rights of felons, which made him eligible to run for Mayor).

Party Affiliation:

LaVaughn King

Campaign website

Job History:

Unique Features:
King appears to be the only candidate who is flaunting his religiosity.

Topher Morrison

Campaign website

Job History:

Unique Features:

David Straz

Campaign website

Job History:
Comes from a wealthy family. His mother loaned him the money to buy his first bank.

Unique Features:
I found this quote from an article about a candidate forum interesting, “Straz advocated letting the private sector take the lead on the problem [affordable housing in Tampa] with help from willing banks and city and federal aid. He said he had hired an African-American staffer to “help me in the urban core.“” So, like Trump, put a black person in charge of poverty because blacks are, presumably, all poor?!? That strikes me as remarkably out of touch… And racist.

Mike Suarez

Campaign website; Twitter;

Job History:

Unique Features:

Ed Turanchik

Campaign website

Job History:

Unique Features:

Polling Information:

July 24th, 2018 – St. Pete Polls put Jane Castor at 41%, almost 30% ahead of the next closest candidate, David Straz, at 11%.

Debates and News Coverage:

October 3rd, 2018 – You can read about the first debate here.
December 11th, 2018 – Here’s the coverage from the Tampa Bay Times on the third debate/candidate forum. Candidate statements from that debate on youtube.
January 9th, 2019 – Fourth debate covered here.
January 15th, 2019 – Another candidate forum.

Campaign finance information for all of the candidates is available here.

Other Items on the Ballot

Tampa Charter Amendments

The Tampa Bay Times details the aims of each of the amendments to the Tampa City Charter here.

District 1

Joseph Citro
Alan Clendenin
David Loos
Craig A. Newman
Walter L. Smith II
Tampa Bay Times recommends Citro.

District 2

John Godwin
Charlie Miranda (no campaign website)
Joe Robinson

Tampa Bay Times recommends Miranda.

District 3

John Dingfelder
Nicholas Glover
Stephen Lytle
Vibha “Ms. V” Shevade

Tampa Bay Times recommends Dingfelder.
This article provides some good background on each of the candidates.

District 6

Guido Maniscalco
Wendy Pepe

This article provides some good background on each of the candidates.


a vote against McCollum for Governor of Florida

Anyone looking for a reason not to vote for Bill McCollum for Governor of Florida? Look no further than an article in today’s St. Petersburg Times noting that, under his direction, the State Attorney General’s office spent over $100,000 on “expert” testimony to hire George Rekers, a homophobic hack who had already been discredited by other courts as having no scientific credibility whatsoever, to defend Florida’s law disallowing gay couples from adopting children.  Ergo, Bill McCollum throws taxpayer money away on hacks to defend religious ideology.

Oh, and George Rekers was recently outed as a closet homosexual – he hired a male prostitute for a 10-day European trip and was caught.  So sad…

general news

the ticket of false hope :(

In case you missed it, President Obama came to my university, University of Tampa, last week.  He spoke mostly about the funding for high speed rail, but then took questions from the audience.

Faculty at my University were reserved a certain number of seats, we just had to ask for a ticket.  I asked for a ticket:

The Secret Service shut down a number of streets around my university and we were told that certain faculty parking lots would be blocked off.  So, I decided to ride my bike into work (takes about 20 minutes; I should do it more often, but I’m too lazy).  Anyway, there was a very long line to get into the gym where the Town Hall Meeting was to be held.  Since I had a ticket, I didn’t think getting in would be an issue.  Um, yeah, I was wrong.  Apparently some of the students at UT decided that, rather than wait in line the day before (there were not enough for all of them), they would simply photocopy tickets.  As a result, about 400 people were turned away from the event, despite having valid tickets.  I was one of them.

I ended up watching the meeting in one of the rooms on campus where they were broadcasting it live.  I guess it’s a good thing I went to see him when he was campaigning here in Tampa; now I don’t feel too bad for missing this event.


why no email campaign?

Sorry for another political post, but something just dawned on me.  I was walking through the lobby of one of the main buildings on campus and there was a student group giving away donuts if you would call your Representative, Senator or the Whitehouse and urge them to take action on the genocide in Darfur.  It’s a noble cause, and a free donut.  So, I called Representative Kathy Castor’s office and urged them to take action (then ate my donut).

On my way back to my office, I realized that I had not contacted my Representative or Senators about health care.  I also realized that I hadn’t seen any email campaigns to do so.  As healthcare is an issue that really bothers me, I decided I’d go ahead and email them myself.

If you’ve never done so, now would be a good time.  It’s also quite easy.  For your senators, go here:


Find the senators for your state and email them.  For your representative, go here:


You can even use my email if you’d like:


I’m writing to encourage you to do whatever you can to institute a government-run health insurance plan.  I’m proud to be American, but ashamed that we are the only developed country in the world that does not have some form of universal coverage for all of our citizens.  Instituting a government-run health insurance plan is the first step in making that happen.  Instituting a government-run health insurance plan will also substantially lower health care costs, which I think most people in the US would like to see.

As one of your constituents, I urge you to reflect the desires of the majority of Americans and institute substantial health care reform, including a government-run health insurance plan:
Poll: Do Americans want government health care reform?


It will take you five minutes to do this.  I’m not one for guilting people into action, but come on – 5 minutes!  Of course, it may take longer if you want to customize the message, but that’s up to you (you mean you don’t want a government-run plan?).  Plus, you’ll be cool; you can go around to all your friends and say, “I contacted my senators and representative today.  Did you?”  Come on!  Don’t you want to be cool?