Tuesday, January 30, 2007

$500 Billion Every Year

Poverty is costly. That's the bottom line of a report commissioned by The Center for American Progress and released on Wednesday. The New York Times reports that children who grow up poor cost the economy up to $500 billion a in lost productivity, increased health care cost and increased criminal behavior. More and more, there is agreement that investing in eliminating childhood poverty makes good economic sense.

Money alone is not the answer. Changes in actions, neighborhoods and parenting are needed.

Of the 37 million people who live in poverty in this country, more than 17% of those are children. In Georgia, one of every five children live in poverty. As John Edwards would say, that's just wrong. We can do better.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Richardson Channels DeLay

Feeling a little tense there, Mr. Speaker? More and more, it appears that Speaker Richardson is channeling Tom DeLay. (We know what happened to DeLay, and Richardson might be wise to note his fate.) The Speaker's arrogance and impulsiveness seem boundless. On Saturday, he is quoted in the Telegraph saying this about the person who filed the ethics complaint against Larry O'Neal:

"This is the Democratic Party of Georgia's lawyer cronies, using him as a pawn in a very dangerous game for him," said Richardson, a Republican from Hiram." (Jan. 27, 2007, The Telegraph)

Today, the Speaker is quoted taking on the press, threatening to yank credentials based on what they write. They have, according to his staff, no constitutional right to be on the floor of the House. I can absolutely understand why the Speaker wants to hide from the press, but his continued threats to those who would dare criticize him and his friends are wearing thin, as is his lip-service treatment of ethics that allows him to remain on the panel for his friend.

The REST of the Republican Presidential Candidates

Michael the Archangel is God? Yes, just ask one the declared candidates for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Check the rest of the field. Below is the info on Mr. Archangel:

Michael Jesus Archangel
STATUS: ANNOUNCED CANDIDATE. This gadfly candidate -- who also uses the name "Saint Michael Jesus the Archangel" (note: formerly named Philip Silva until he legally adopted the Archangel moniker in 1996) -- appears rather delusional. "From the time I was a little boy I knew I was God and Michael the Archangel, but I didn't dare tell anyone, not even anyone in my family because I knew that the devil, Satan, was going to try to murder Me, and indeed he did try, four separate times," he explains. He says he's a Vietnam War veteran who attempted suicide due to depression and paranoia. He also claims he later became a "a volunteer Secret Agent for the Central Intelligence Agency without pay." A former janitor, he is a self-employed "writer" these days. As for politics, he describes himself as a "radical conservative Republican" who recognizes "the fact that America is an official Theocracy." Archangel was arrested on attempted murder and other felony charges in March 2006. "As a matter of fact, he is crazy. Anyone in their right mind can see that," said the Sheriff who arrested him. You can find lots and lots of very long pages of his bizarre writing on his official website: ArchangelMichael.info (you've got to scroll down very far on the homepage to find the link to his Presidential campaign and his autobiography).

Sunday, January 28, 2007

What Mike Berlon Did

Because of Mike Berlon, Georgia Democrats will never again forget to acknowledge the power of grassroots activism. Because of Jim Nelson, we may all learn to speak "evangelical." Hattie Dorsey, though her service and her candidacy, made certain that we will never again take for granted the support of women and African Americans. And, who better than Carol Jackson to challenge us to re-define "winnable" and remind us that we can successfully reach out to rural Georgia? In Jane Kidd, we elected a powerful, smart, creative women to lead us, but there is no question that the others who ran point the way toward a winning strategy, and I have no doubt that Jane will make sure they are all at the table as we make plans to move forward.

I have never been more proud to be a Georgia Democrat than I was yesterday. For a Party that has spent much of the last six years doing virtually everything wrong, we finally did virtually everything right.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Thurmond is 1st Vice

Michael Thurmond is 1st Vice.

Kidd Wins

Kidd wins DPG chairs race.

Nelson, Dorsey Out

Kidd and Berlon still in. Jane Kidd ahead on the last ballot. 113 to 1O6 and 17 for Dorsey. This will be close.

Jackson is Out

Carol JacksonIs* out first round, and Neon* and Kidd were the top two.

Note: Clearly, no one named "neon" was running. This should've read:
"Carol Jackson is out first round, and Berlon and Kidd were the top two."

Chalk this error up to my first effort at Blackberry blogging....

Sen. Robert Brown Nominates Kidd

Sen. Brown nominated the "come back Kidd."

Berlon Promised a Hundred Grand

Yep. 25 thousand year. And Mayor Shirley Franklin just nominated Hattie Dorsey.

Bye Bye Bobby

The first act of the DPG state committee was to honor Bobby Kahn. He was given a watch and trip and quipped, "are you sure one of these is not a one way ticket. " Chair is a tough job, clearly!

Friday, January 26, 2007

DPG Elections

Tomorrow, I intend to blog from the DPG Elections- at least the fun parts. The meeting starts at 1 pm with the Chair's race first, so, tune in for updates!

Macon Mayorial: Reichert's Pre-Announcement Announcement

If live in Middle Georgia and do not come to Politics and Lunch on the last Friday of each month, you not only miss great speakers (like Mattice Haynes-Amusa who spoke today) and lively bi-partisan discussion, you also miss the occasional political "scoop." Today, one the the widely rumored candidates for Mayor of Macon, Robert Reichert, came in and told the group that he will hold a press conference on Monday to announce his intent to run.

You can sign up for email notification of Politics and Lunch here. We meet the last Friday of each month at The Power Station (formerly Nashville Station), at noon. The only cost, $10.00, is for your lunch. Next month, Bibb superintendent of schools, Sharon Patterson, will be our speaker, and she will address what's working and what the challenges are in our local school system.

Stop. Please. Stop.

I love the fact that people are so eager to serve in DPG offices that they are employing all of the typical strategies. Heck, I half expect to turn on my television and see an ad for one or more of the candidates. I appreciate the mail, the emails, the videos, the websites, and the letters from third parties in support of candidates, but, and this is my personal bias: I HATE ROBO-CALLS, and I just got one ON MY CELL PHONE from one of the candidates. What is "Calling Post" anyway?

Chambliss, Isakson vote against minimum wage raise


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Kinda Competent Lawyers/Sorta Guilty Clients

That's the standard Georgia Republicans are fine with when it comes to legal representation and due process for criminal defendants. The AP is reporting that, despite objections from the Board of Bar Overseers, Franklin's bill, noted yesterday, that would allow those who graduate from unaccredited law schools or correspondence schools to sit for the Bar exam, is picking up steam. The bill is backed by powerful Republicans, including Rep. Burkhalter. Coupled with the bill that will require only eleven of twelve jurors to agree to guilt in non-death penalty felony cases, it seems that Georgia Republicans want to simultaneously lower the standards for conviction and the requirements for qualification as a lawyer in this state. How about we allow individuals to practice medicine who have only been to unaccredited medical schools or taken correspondence courses? After all, as Franklin said, we don't want to "loose the expertise of those who cannot afford to go to a 'brick and mortar' school." Then, let's lower the accreditation standards for hospitals. Sound good? Franklin must've hated the smart kids when he was in school.

Guest Post: SB10 NOT a Good IDEA

Today we have a guest-post from Ronald Cloud, a parent and an advocate for public schools and for citizens with disabilities. Below, with his permission, I have posted a letter Mr. Cloud sent today to Sen. Eric Johnson, Sen. Robert Brown and Rep. Allen Peake and copied to ten members of the Senate Education Committee regarding SB10, the bill that seeks to offer "scholarships" (read: vouchers) to children with disabilities who elect to attend private schools. Sen. Johnson claims that parents of disabled children are behind this bill. That's just not entirely accurate. The more parents learn about the protections they will forfeit under this legislation, the less they like it.

In reality, this legislation is nothing more than a wedge in the fight to create a voucher program for private schools in Georgia, an initiative that will siphon critical dollars away from already-cash-strapped public schools. I have written about this bill before, and my husband who sometimes represents students with disabilities has also offered his take on the bill. SB 10 is bad news for children with disabilities and, just as they did with the "65% Solution", the Republicans are skewing data to support their purpose. Here's Ronald's excellent letter.

To: eric.johnson@senate.ga.gov
Cc: robert.brown@senate.ga.gov,allen@allenpeake.com
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2007 01:57:04 -0500Subject: SB 10 - NOT a good IDEA, Please Withdraw and Reconsider

January 24, 2007
The Honorable Eric Johnson
Georgia State Senate

Regards: SB-10 is not a good IDEA

Dear Senator Johnson:

Your attempt to import Florida’s McKay Scholarship program with SB-10:is not worthy of support from your colleagues, does not responsibly address Georgia’s public education challenges,and is a means of abandoning the historic public commitment to accommodate and include children with disabilities in the public schools with their community peers.

Today’s parents of children with disabilities, including myself, owe a great debt to the generation of parents and advocates that secured that commitment from their fellow Americans with the passage of public law 94-142, known today as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA.

In re-authorizing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the US Congress found that “the implementation of this title has been impeded by low expectations, and an insufficient focus on applying replicable research on proven methods of teaching and learning for children with disabilities” and that“the education of children with disabilities can be made more effectiveby--`(A) having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, . . . ”

Also, in the lead up to the most recent re-authorization the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education found that “General education and special education share responsibilities for children with disabilities. They are not separable at any level . . . ”

Yes there are shortcomings, unrealized promises, in the educational services provided, or not provided, to children in public schools. IDEA explicitly recognizes that, offers a path toward improvement, and secures student and family standing to negotiate better special educational programs.

The No Child Left Behind laws have helped raise expectations for
students with disabilities by insisting that schools report and are held
accountable for their test scores. I have directly observed some significant changes in special needs placement and instructional practices as a result of recent federal
education reforms and widespread advocacy.

Research and implementation of proven teaching methods, higher expectations, more access to the general education curriculum, monitoring and accountability for results . . .

So, what exactly do you find wrong here?

SB-10 is an instrument of separation and segregation that proposes the expenditure of public funds in private schools or service centers while emphatically prohibiting any added public accountability of their effectiveness.

It is an inducement for disappointed, frustrated, even intimidated parents to sign away the safeguards of federal protection and move away from their child’s rightful place in the community school.

On the school side of the table, where they are required to provide appropriate services as needed and they cannot explicitly refuse to do so because such services are not adequately funded, SB-10 caps the expense and allows them to present the choice to take what we offer or take the state’s money and leave us alone.

I have read SB-10, read your blog entry on peachpundit.com defending it,and read the Manhattan Institute’s “study” of Florida’s McKay scholarship program that you cite in support of it. I will endeavor to share relevant observations about the contents of those documents with you in another letter.

In the meantime, I ask that you withdraw SB-10 from consideration. Public education deserves public support and involvement from all of us. It would be an encouraging gesture for the Senate Majority Leader to reconsider this ill advised program.

Please try to find a more constructive means of supporting students,families, schools, and communities in collaborative efforts to realize the ambitions and ideals of IDEA and NCLB.

Ronald Cloud publiuserc@juno.com

MH advocates ignored by legislators


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Just Not Just

We should be both tough on crime and committed to making sure those who are convicted are, in fact, guilty. Just this week Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced today that Willie O. "Pete" Williams, 44, would be released from state custody following DNA test results that ruled out Williams as the perpetrator of a rape for which he was convicted in 1985. Williams has spent nearly 22 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Those DNA tests were not provided by the State, but instead by The Georgia Innocence Project.

It is ironic that on a week like this, a week that should've served as a gut check for Georgia lawmakers, two bills were filed that could make it less likely that those who are convicted are actually guilty. According to Georgia Legislative Watch, Rep. Timothy Beardon filed HB128, and if the bill passes, then only eleven of the twelve jurors in a non-death penalty felony case will need to agree in order to convict. And Rep. Bobby Franklin (whose bills are suspect out of the gate) has filed HB115, a bill that, if passed, could allow graduates of unaccredited law schools in other states to sit for the Georgia Bar exam. So, we want to lower the bar for conviction and simultaneously lower the standards for admission to the bar.

This is, politically, a very safe position. Beardon and other sponsors will be able to stand in front of the hometown crowd and tout their record on crime. Never mind the integrity of the system, woe to any politician who questions legislation filed under "tough on crime." Justice is costly, and some people are just not willing to pay the price to get it right. Just look at this letter to the editor from today's Telegraph. Some folks, it appears, are fine Iraqi justice. Don't count me among them.

Expensive representation for our worse criminals?

Should our worse criminals be entitled to the best legal
representation?A recent series of articles in The Telegraph on the level of defense provided indigent defendants charged with capital crimes caused me to ponder whether the courts are functioning in the best interest of the taxpayers of our state. The article stated some defendants require hundreds of thousands of dollars to mount a vigorous defense. The Brian Nichols case in Atlanta was cited in which the defendant is charged with the murder of a judge, a court reporter and a peace officer, all in full view of witnesses.In simpler times such cases were presented to a jury after the person charged was deemed sane, witnesses offered and evidence entered by a prosecutor in a matter of hours. The attorney for the defendant presented rebuttal evidence to the jury, suggested an alibi if appropriate, and made a plea for acquittal. Each side addressed the
jury in summary, and the panel retired to consider a verdict. The entire process usually consumed no more than a few days, and justice was served. Rarely was a case overturned or retried. A trial now is viewed by many as a process to free the defendant from all charges and considers those wronged by him as intruders into his personal life. Little value is given to hurt, damaged or demised victims of the crime, but full consideration is afforded the person charged. The emphasis is to free the defendant, with the help of taxpayer money, and return him to the streets. Courts are asked to be more understanding, forgiving and lenient, especially in cases of past abuse and poverty. Every ploy
is used by the defending attorney - allegations of early childhood abuse,
intoxication, racism -for acquittal, with loss and pain by others relegated to the back row of the court room. Meanwhile at the tax office, sufficient monies are being collected, using police powers, to pay a passel of attorneys, consultants, investigators and psychologist hundreds of dollars an hour. It is time for us to begin considering the plight of victims in such cases and dwell less on freeing a defendant. Real justice can be had at a reasonable cost and all the rights of an accused protected. It does not take a village of money.

John G. Kelley Jr. is a resident of Macon.

Thinking Past Saturday

One thing is certain, on Sunday, the Democratic Party of Georgia will have new officers. Certainly, the chair and first vice-chair will be new to their offices and, unless Hattie Dorsey is elected, new to the top offices of the party. I think that any of the candidates for those offices could win on Saturday, and while I prefer certain combinations above others, after Saturday, we do have to figure out how to move forward and do a better job of electing Democrats in this state. To do that successfully, we might want to consider not killing each other off before the election.

The chair's race, in particular, has become a nasty contest both in terms of things that are being said overtly about candidates and powerful whisper campaigns that really seem to be doing the most damage. For instance, word on the street is that Berlon wants to exclude elected officials and that Kidd is only interested in serving the needs of elected officials. Neither of those statements are true. Likewise, folks are saying that Kidd represents only the Democratic 'establishment' while Berlon is beholding to labor and progressives. Again, neither of those statements are entirely true. There are worse things being said about all the candidates, and I don't care to repeat those here.

To make matters worse, in the last few days, supporters of one candidate or the other have been attacked in blog-land. A couple of those rants have been directed at friends of mine. While Melanie, Page and I may not agree on who should be chair, I know these women and respect the time and energy they give to the Party and to candidates. They do not deserve to be bashed personally for who they choose to support. Burn-out is facilitated when hard work is not just ignored but instead criticized without mercy. Thank goodness one of the more mean-spirited rants was deleted by the administrator of a site. But all this begs the question: Are we thinking past Saturday? Really?

Someone said that the chairs race feels like Cox/Taylor all over again and that it has the capacity to further divide the party. If we learned anything from that race it is that the potential to do long term harm to the Party is very real. Folks have said that they had heard that some people were going to bail if certain people are elected. I do think that some donors and others will walk away if they do not trust the leadership to do the job at hand, but I also think that those same people will continue to support Democrats in another ways, and perhaps over time the Party will regain their trust.

Gov. Barnes told me a long time ago that "politics is a bloodsport." He's right, but for a party in desperate need of a transfusion as it is, we cannot afford to write folks off just because they are not supporting who we are for chair. I have several friends,who I respect, who are supporting each of the candidates for chair. Most of the people who are plugged in enough to care about this race already donate time and money to the Party and to Democratic candidates. All of these candidates are doing us a favor by offering themselves for service. After Saturday, we have to work to build a Party that can successfully elect Democrats, and doing that will take all of us.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I'm Adding a Link to a Cool Site

Stop what you are doing and go visit Politico.com. That's right. Go now, and you'll thank me later. Tonight on CBS, after the State of the Union, one of the authors of the site was interviewed. The site is very cool and offers great content about the national political scene. They are obviously gearing up for the Presidential.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I did watch some of the State of the Union, and it was the camera shot of the podium, not the words of the President, that meant the most to me. To see Speaker Pelosi sitting on the podium behind the President was an amazing, historic moment.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The $100,000 Question

Do you think it matters whether those who seek Party office have a track record of contributing to the Party? Over at Blog for Democracy, I read that at Saturday's candidate forum, Mike Berlon promised that, if elected, he would give the DPG $25,000.00 each year of his term . That's a total of $100,000 for the four years. Then, last night a candidate for one of the other offices called me and offered that they had personally given more than $100,000.00 to Democratic candidates during the last cycle. (I am checking that particular claim since I was not able to verify donations at that level by searching the Ethics Commission and Secretary of State websites. Maybe the contributions the person referred to were federal.)

Berlon's promise and the assertion of the other person raises a number of issues, but one that bubbles to the top of the list for me is whether or not the past political giving of an individual should be a factor when they are seeking party office. I did some of my own checking on the Ethics Commission website, and less extensively on the Secretary of State's site. I found some very, very interesting tidbits. I am not sharing them now because I want to make sure that the information I found is correct, but you may find it interesting to check here and search under last names of each candidate. Keep in mind that older records are stored on the Secretary of State's site, and I am sure that someone will blog in to tell me how to find the federal numbers.

For me, personally, I think that political giving, at whatever level a person can afford, is an important investment. I do think that there are other important ways to support the Party and candidates through volunteerism. When it comes to the money, the ability to raise money is more important to me than the willingness to write a personal check, though I think a chair should do both. What do you think? Does the money matter?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Poll: Who Do You Support for DPG Chair?

Update: Let's try this one more time. As Melanie pointed out (thanks, Melanie), the initial poll that I put up last night was not secure. For example, it generated the following results despite the fact that the site only had about 50 unique visitors since the poll was posted after midnight

Mike Berlon (214) 57.37%
Hattie Dorsey (22) 5.90%
Jane Kidd (23) 6.17%
Jim Nelson (114) 30.56%

The poll allowed folks to vote multiple times, so these results are not accurate. Let's try this this one which appears to only allow one vote, per computer. Sorry for the mistake. I am also adding a poll at the main Georgia Women Vote site (right side, bottom), and know that poll to be secure.

In less than a week, the Democratic Party of Georgia will elect new leadership. This is an historic opportunity. Who do you support for chair? Especially if you are a State Committee member, I invite you to post your reasons for your choice in the comments.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Give 'Um Hill

Today, Sen. Hillary Clinton announced her much anticipated bid for President saying, "I'm in, and I'm in to win." Clinton, Edwards, Obama, and Richardson make this Democratic list of "will runs" or "probably will runs" the most diverse in history. The collective intellect, vitality and charisma of these Democratic candidates makes me proud and makes the likely Republicans look like the cast of Grumpy Old Men. Democrats definitely have the opportunity to take the White House in 2008.

And what about that slogan "Give 'Um Hill"? Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Is Joe Trippe involved in her campaign?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Per Request: Butler, Un-Cut

Per request, this is the original email from Jim Butler. There were a couple in the stream, but this was first:

Demographic and political trends strongly suggest that Democrats should be able to return to power by the 2010 elections, if not before. Certainly it appears that Bushism may relegate the Republicans to Hoover days, and Americans' revulsion about the Bushist mismanagement of foreign policy, domestic policy, fiscal policy, and trade policy will eventually percolate in to Georgians' views. Perdue's legacy of inaction and negative actions won't be much better, if any.

I can't see much standing in the way of a brighter future for Democrats and all Georgia citizens other than Democrats' own failure to seize the opportunities to broaden the appeal of the Georgia Democratic Party and its candidates.

One of the candidates for Party Chair has advocated separating the Party from elected Democratic officials. That's very unwise and counter-productive, in my view. It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of past Democratic history in Georgia (when the relationship between the Party and elected officials was based upon the fact Democrats controlled the state and the fact there was no really organized Democratic party, nor much need for one). It also reflects a failure to understand fundamental truths about fundraising. Such a Party organization will simply not be able to raise money effectively. Money isn't everything in politics, as we all know and have been reminded in recent years, but it is nonetheless important.

In the first place, who knows more about how to get Democrats elected to office than someone who has managed to get elected to office in Georgia as a Democrat? Not many of the rest of us, that's for sure.

More importantly, it is clear beyond doubt that most county party organizations need to be reconstituted, and the obvious most logical place to start is with elected Democratic officials in each county. State Party officials should go to them and enlist their help in reconstituting the County party. The goal should be to make being a Democrat in that county socially acceptable to a broad cross section of the community.

What are we missing in most counties? Everyone knows the answer to that. Elected Sheriffs, County Commissioners, Tax Commissioners, and Clerks can, if they will, encourage and enlist local business folk and others widely respected in the community to become the local 'face of the party'.

The experience of Democrats in western states should show us the way. Pick the target groups who have not been willing to consider voting for Democrats. Become acceptable to them, and you cobble together a majority of the votes.

In much of Georgia, many voters today will simply not even contemplate voting for someone with "Democrat" beside their name. THAT is the main issue. That is what Georgia Democrats must overcome. I hope the State Committee will elect as State Officers folks with whom a broader cross section of Georgians can readily identify.

Jim Butler
Columbus GA

A U.S. Senate Candidate?

There has been a lot of speculation about whether Jim Butler is eyeing a run for the U.S. Senate. Today, via email, Jim said, in part:

Apparently there are at least some who think my motivation for speaking out on this DPG subject is an ambition to run for office. So, I'll share the below. I have not decided whether to run in 2008. There are a lot of considerations - a lot of reasons not to run. Obviously if so many Georgia voters who won't even consider voting for a Democrat were no longer stuck with the cartoon image of "Democrats" which has created over the years by the Republicans (with a lot of help from Democrats themselves), that would be an encouragement to me. What the State Committee does on January 27 will profoundly affect the image of"Democrats" in this state. So to some extent broadening the reach of the Party is connected to my consideration of whether to run. But I'd be doing this even if I had irrevocably decided not to run. I AM a Democrat. I used to be a Republican. But that party's reliance on race politics and its adoption in 1980 of voodoo economics converted me, and its irresponsible "policies" (if one can call them 'policies') since that time have repeatedly reaffirmed my decision to be a Democrat. (I do not see how anyone can 'read the red words' in the New Testament and then consistently vote Republican.)

Interesting. I do agree with the part about the red words!

Perdue and Pelosi

It is not President Bush, but Speaker Pelosi (you know, Nancy Pelosi who Perdue and nearly every Republican running in Georgia maligned during their campaigns) who may have the power provide access to the $131 million PeachCare shortfall. A bipartisan delegation of Georgia legislators, led by Calvin Smyre, George Hooks and others, is in Washington, DC as we speak appealing to the new Speaker.

This is a good example of how the shift in power nationally gives Georgia Democrats an opportunity to lead. Let's hope they are successful.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

And Bobby Kahn Responds

Promotion from the comments on "Eight is Unacceptable." Here's what current chairman, Bobby Kahn has to say. (It looks like you can expect your phone to ring if you've not been asked to contribute to the DPG.)

Bobby said...
Guess I'll weigh in. For everyone who voted in the 2004 Presidential Primary and has a phone number on the voter file, a call was attempted. We completed well over 100,000 phone calls. It was very expensive, but it is starting to pay off. The small donor program will make a decent amount of money in 2007, and even more in 2008 as excitement over the Presidential election grows. As expensive as calling is, mailing is alot more expensive. We did a test mail off of the 2004 Pres Prim file. The returns were much better on the phone, and cost less. Granted, we missed people without phone numbers (40% of the file), but the effort was significant, resulting in a much larger small donor base. The important information in Chris's post is that there is a great deal of overlap between the DNC and DPG lists -- you just have to look at federal and state reports. Also, State Committee members routinely get invited to the JJ and GADCC dinners, and are solicited by the various joint fundraising programs. If you still feel left out, send me an email at bkahn@mindspring.com, and I will make sure I ask you for money in the days remaining in my term. Bobby Kahn
3:35 PM

Glenn Richardson's "Unadulterated" Videotape

Today, in the AJC, Glenn Richardson says that the videotape will clear him. I had heard that there might be video, but this is not what I was not exactly what I was thinking of. I have to wonder why Speaker Richardson keeps bringing this up. Here's a portion of the article:

"Richardson's assertion that he killed the bill relates to a speech he made on the House floor two days before the 2006 session ended. To refute the conflict-of-interest allegation, aides to the speaker showed The Atlanta Journal-Constitution a video clip of that speech, in a version that had been edited to include a soaring musical score: An unadulterated version is available on the General Assembly's Web site, in archived video from the morning of March 28."

A soaring musical score? What? And did the AJC really use the word "unadulterated"?

DPG Responds to "Only Eight": Front Page Promotion

Chris has commented on yesterday's "Eight is Unacceptable" post, and I am moving it to the front page because it contains important information. One of the things that is clear, and that we should all be worried about as we make this transition is that we are likely to loose staff who have significant knowledge of the complex campaign finance laws. How will we fill that void? Talk among yourselves....

Chris said...
The DPG and DNC have a joint fundraising agreement. Dollars for Democrats, which does telephone and mail solicitation for small dollar contributions is part of that. Every voter who voted in the 2004 Democratic Presidential Primary (when the list was initially seeded) should have received a solicitation about that.I can't remember exactly what the letter said but I know I got one (or more) fundraising appeals from Bobby Kahn at one point.Additionally, our Federal Account is called the Georgia Federal Elections Committee. Let me illustrate with an example just how much the DNC/DCCC/DSCC thinks of the Georgia Democratic Party.In federal elections (we had no Senate race so I'll discuss Congressional races) the DCCC is allowed to spend a certain amount of money directly on Democratic nominees for Congress. I believe this is called 441 AD money. However, the DCCC can cede that authority to any other federal party committee. This is rare, as most state parties are not trusted to spend large amounts of coordinated money by their federal counterparts.In Georgia, the DCCC only chose to act on their authority in two heavily targeted races, the 8th and the 12th (technically they could have ceded their authority in all 13 races but 2,4,5 and 13 were considered safe and the DCCC didn't feel like the others were winnable). In both cases, the authority was ceded to the Georgia Federal Elections Committee and we spent funds on behalf of Jim Marshall and John Barrow. In both cases, I can't imagine anyone would argue that a single penny was wasted, so clearly we were instrumental in their re-elections. Most state parties see a coordinated campaign take over their jurisdiction because this authority is not granted, either because the state party (in their determination) can't be trusted or more likely lacks the capability/experience to pull off a successful operation.Now, speaking of the GFEC, many DNC donors probably show up there. Additionally, because of the complexity of campaign finance laws, the GFEC and the DNC/DCCC/DSCC as federal committees are no longer allowed to take corporate "soft money" contributions under federal law.Let me give you an example of this. Say that John Smith is a big Democratic donor and is the owner of Smith Tractor Supply, Inc, a successful Georgia company. If he chooses to make a donation to the DNC, he must do it from his personal funds, and he is limited to $2,100/cycle. However, if he also decides to make a contribution to the Democratic Party of Georgia state elections account, there are no soft money limitations, no corporate limitations and no giving limits. So, instead of John Smith giving the money, Smith Tractory Supply might make a donation of $5,000.It is up to the donor, but since corporations are restricted from giving to federal pacs, many of them choose to make corporate donations in the states where they can, even though their officers may make personal contributions to federal committees. This extends also to some private citizens (who I am not at liberty to reveal) who have made donations in the past through holding companies that they control.Unless someone is privy to these types of considerations they should be careful with their criticisms. How many candidates running for party office have even considered before how you handle a federal/state split and taking that into consideration when you solicit donations?Finally, a word about the 50 state strategy. The DPG employs a full office staff of between 7/8 and 20 people, depending on the part of the year/election cycle. Many states had anemic staffs of 1 or 2 low level employees. Thus, the 50 state strategy was born as a way for Dean to secure the votes of the state chairs. In states that had little party infrastructure, the DNC took the lead in hiring the staff and directing them.However, in Georgia let me tell you what happened. Howard Dean visited our offices after being elected Chair in early 2005. When he visited that day, he found an active staff, including an executive director and deputy directors with years of federal and state campaign experience (and party experience) that raise well in excess of $1 million on an annual basis, he also found a press secretary (most have none) who speaks to the press on a many times a day basis, has a good relationship, puts out multiple press releases per week and actually at the time was putting out mail-merged (for lack of a better word) press releases to each county news source that were customized with budget numbers relevant to that county. He told the Georgia Chair that he was confident with the operation in place and that Georgia could transfer existing staff to the DNC payroll as part of the 50 state strategy. There was no need to hire new staff as there was in a place like Mississippi or Alaska.Finally, when others measure the support of the 50 state strategy in other states, including Howard Dean, they point to electoral victories. Now, we did not win our Governor's race or some other statewide races. But we retained every single incumbent running for statewide office or the legislature. This is the first time that has happened in nearly 20 years or more. (In other words, I've searched my memory for my lifetime and I cannot remember this happening).We also scored very big wins in CD 8 and CD 12. Did we pick up new Congressional seats? No we did not. But I don't believe any Democratic challengers in the country won in districts as Republican as CD 1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, or 11. Marshall and Barrow's re-elections were as important as victories in Pennsylvania or New York. May I also remind you that when the current "establishment" was in power in the early part of this decade, Georgia had only 3 Democratic Congressmen. We gained 2 seats in the census (both of them were won by Democrats) and we flipped an existing seat into our column.I think people need to be realistic about what changes can be made, and what to expect. We raise a large amount of money compared to most state parties in a state this size on a year in year out basis. A new regime, which will by definition not be part of the establishment like the current one, will need to make extraordinary connections to supplant the current funding apparatus with a different set of donors. If they are extremely lucky, they will raise the same amount of money over the next two years as over the last.So, electorally, how will things be different? If the money is essentially the same and the playing field is expanded, candidates that were in heavily competitive districts but lost this year (like Lauren Benedict) will have less money and attention devoted to them. How do they expect to do better in these districts. And candidates and districts that weren't targeted previously might get a small amount of extra money, but $100,000 wins races not $2,000 or $10,000.And if less money is raised (which is the most likely scenario) the only responsible thing to do would be to further narrow the playing field to concentrate more resources on better probabilities, but if this doesn't happen money will be spent to make people feel good about a "159 county" strategy or whatever and we'll still have the same number (or fewer) seats in the legislature.Now I may say something that might surprise some people. Can the party do a better job. Always. If we aren't constantly trying to improve things or find new ways to do things more efficiently than we are not doing a good job. But realism is the key to a successful organization, whether it is a McDonalds franchise or Habitat for Humanity or the Democratic Party of Georgia. I think some people need to step back from the soundbytes and ask themselves if they are really serious about the tremendous task of learning the system and being successful or whether they just want to say and do whatever makes *them* feel good, forgetting that the mission of the party is to *elect* as many Democrats as it can -- not do a half ass job showering attention on as many losing candidates as possible.
2:29 AM

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kill the Deal!

Erick and I seldom agree, but we agree about this. At the League of Women Voters luncheon today, Councilwoman Nancy White, fielded numerous questions about the infamous hotel deal. According to White both she and Miriam Paris talked to 100's of voters during their recent campaigns and without exception none of these Ward 4 or 5 residents were in favor of the current deal locating the hotel on the property with the Centraplex. Everyone wanted it across the street.

In addition, City Council received a letter from Billy Pitts, Chamber President, and Chip Cherry, Chamber Executive Director, stating that the current proposal places the City of Macon and the citizens of Macon at considerable risk if the lodging tax revenue projections are not accurate. According to White, they recommended that the negotiated agreement places all the liability on the selected developer, that the bondholder agreement be drafted so to protect the City from any financial liability for the life of the bonds, that it is not in the best interest of the community for the City to hold and pay the debt service on a facility that is owned by a private entity, and that a combination of reinvesting the tax revenues from the improvements to the property and a majority of the lodging revenue from the project, back into the hotel is needed to make the project viable.

Despite the efforts of 5 City Council members, White, Paris, Mike Cranford, Ed De Fore and Charles Jones, the hotel deal stands poised to go forward. However, you can help kill the deal by urging your County Commissioners and School Board members to not approve the funding. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between City Council and Noble expires on January 23, 2007. If either the County Commission or the School Board fails to approve the funding laid out in the MOU by that date, the MOU will simply expire and the deal will be off. The City would then have the opportunity to negotiate a deal that is more in line with the needs and wants of the community.

In case your not sure who to call, the members of the Bibb County Board of Commissioners are Charlie Bishop, Chairman, Joe Allen, Bert Bivens, Sam Hart and Elmo Richardson. Their contact information can be found here. The members of the Bibb County School Board are Lynn Farmer, President, Albert Abrams, Tommy Barnes, Gary Bechtel, Tom Hudson, Susan Middleton, Bob Nickles and Terry Tripp. Their contact information can be found here.

This is an opportunity to impact a local issue - so call, fax and write your elected leaders today!

Candidates for DPG Offices

Here they are:

Michael R. Berlon (Gwinnett)
Hattie B. Dorsey (Fulton)
Carol Jackson (Habersham)
Donzella J. James (Fulton)
Jane V. Kidd (Clarke)
Jim Nelson (Chatham)

First Vice-Chair
Gloria S. Butler (DeKalb)
Darryl A. Hicks (Fayette)
Angela Moore (DeKalb)
Michael Thurmond (Clarke)
Doug Stoner (Cobb)

Congressional District/County Liaison Vice-Chair
Randal Mangham (DeKalb)
Sally Rosser (Fulton)
Cheryl Williams (Gwinnett)

Constituency Group Vice-Chair
Virgilio Perez Pascoe (Forsyth)
James Quarterman (Douglas)
Terrence Samuel (Thomas)

Candidate Recruitment Vice-Chair
Winfred Dukes (Dougherty)
Danita P. Knowles (Coffee)

Patricia Barlow-Ivry (Habersham)
Stephen R. Leeds (Fulton)

Rex Templeton, Jr. (Chatham)

1st Congressional District Chair
Dennis W. Marks (Lowndes)

2nd Congressional District Chair
Margaret Tyson (Grady)

3rd Congressional District Chair
Ernest C. Broadwell (Fayette)

4th Congressional District Chair
Linda Edmonds (DeKalb)

5th Congressional District Chair
William Curry (Fulton)
Sheila Jones (Fulton)

6th Congressional District Chair
Ben E. Myers (Fulton)

7th Congressional District Chair
Tasso Knight (Gwinnett)

8th Congressional District Chair
Keith Moffett (Bibb)

9th Congressional District Chair
Bob Barton (Lumpkin)

10th Congressional District Chair
R. Terry Holley (Columbia)
Patty Payne (Franklin)

11th Congressional District Chair
David McLaughlin (Floyd)

12th Congressional District Chair
Tony Center (Chatham)

13th Congressional District Chair
Donzella J. James (Fulton)
Sukari Scott (Clayton)
Nikema Williams (Fulton)

Hicks: Only Eight is Unacceptable

"In 2006, more than 500 Georgia Democrats contributed over $275,000 to the DNC and only 8 of these donors also contributed to the DPG. This is unacceptable." No kidding.

If you are a State Committee member, then you should've gotten this information in an email from Darryl Hicks. Hicks is running for 1st Vice Chair of the DPG. Having run a statewide campaign, he has political experience, plus, as we heard from him-over and over again during the primary-he is a expert in customer service. When the customers are voters, volunteers and donors, those are handy skills. Hicks, who is personable, smart and experienced, can be a valuable part of a leadership team. He has my vote.

Good luck Darryl!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Broken Egg Problem

Today, Jim Lehrer interviewed President Bush about Iraq policy, and the transcript is well worth reading. Unfortunately, it only underscores the fact that Bush's Iraq policy makes absolutely no sense. Consider this exchange:

MR. LEHRER: Is there a little bit of a broken egg problem here, Mr. President, that there is instability and there is violence in Iraq - sectarian violence, Iraqis killing other Iraqis, and now the United States helped create the broken egg and now says, okay, Iraqis, it's your problem. You put the egg back together, and if you don't do it quickly and you don't do it well, then we'll get the hell out.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah, you know, that's an interesting question. I don't quite view it as the broken egg; I view it as the cracked egg --

MR. LEHRER: Cracked egg?

PRESIDENT BUSH: -- that - where we still have a chance to move beyond the broken egg. And I thought long and hard about the decision, Jim. Obviously it's a big decision for this theater in the war on terror, and you know, if I didn't believe we could keep the egg from fully cracking, I wouldn't ask 21,000 kids - additional kids to go into Iraq to reinforce those troops that are there.

Bibb County Rankings

For the last three years, I have served on the executive committee for Community Partnership, the Family Connections Program for Macon and Bibb County. This afternoon at 4 pm, fellow board members, Mark Nichols, Tony Rojas, and I will do a presentation for Macon City Council regarding the work of FCP and the issues we face in Macon and Bibb County. It's not a pretty picture. The rankings below compare Bibb County to other reporting counties in the state. (Not every county provides data for every indicator.) Keep in mind that in overall child and family well-being, Georgia ranks 43rd in the nation in terms. On some of these indicators, we are among the worst of the worst:

Child Poverty: 116 of 159
Free and Reduced Lunch: 114 of 159
Single Parent Homes: 151 pf 159
No Working Parent: 124 of 159
Teen Pregnancy: 107 of 146
Infant Mortality: 40 of 50
Low Birth Weight Babies: 130 of 159
Teen Births: 80 of 155
High School Dropouts: 70 of 159

Community Partnership works to facilitate collaboration among agencies and individuals engaged in addressing these and other issues impacting child and family well-being.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I'm Voting for Jane Kidd

I'm voting for Jane Kidd for DPG Chair. Jane can go from boardrooms in Buckhead to the Rotary Club in Bainbridge, be welcome, be comfortable and make people feel great about being a Democrat. In addition, Jane can, without a doubt, can raise the cash required to fund a winning strategy.

For Georgia Democrats, Jane offers a unique combination of leadership experience, political acumen and deep roots. From personal experience, Jane knows what candidates need and what it takes to win. She is making a 159 County Strategy for candidate recruitment a top priority, and she understands that local elected Democrats and local Democratic organizations are our greatest under-developed resource. She is committed to making Republicans earn every vote in every race, and she knows that supporting County Parties so that they can be more effective in electing Democrats is key.

We don't have to hope that Jane can raise money, a quick scan of her campaign disclosures reveals that she can indeed. Plus, her own volunteer-rich campaigns show a strong commitment to good grassroots organizing. For the Democratic Party of Georgia to be a success, it has to be more than an organizational chart, it has to become a viable force, promoting Democrats and Democratic candidates in Georgia. Jane has the skills and experience to bring life to the party. You can learn more about Jane and her vision for the party by checking out her website. Plus, Jane blogs!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

"Deep, Honest Discussions About Race"

Check Charles Richardson's column, "Why Don't You Hate Me?" in today's Telegraph. What he refers to as "deep, honest discussions about race" are often difficult to have, even with friends, but such discussions are so important. Richardson's piece is powerful and timely in light of the holiday tomorrow. Richardson says:

So, why don't black people hate white people? Because the Civil Rights Movement was not just a black movement. It was an American movement that secured, as King said, "the promise of democracy."
Tomorrow, we should march together again, black and white, in recognition of the sacrifices that allow us to live together today as free people without hatred.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Bush Team Must've Written This

Our vet gave us some medicated shampoo for our new kitten, Gracie. Just as Bush's "new way forward" speech was written by people who have never fought a war, the directions on the shampoo were written by folks who have never had a cat!

Here's the what we're to do:

1) Completely wet the cat.
2) Thoroughly lather the cat.
3) Leave the lather on for ten minutes, and
4) Do not allow the cat to lick itself while lathered.
5) Rinse thoroughly.

Any volunteers?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Cagle Puts Staton in His Place

Cagle is one smart politician. Today, he killed Senator Staton's much-blustered-about constitutional amendment on Voter ID (you know, Staton's solution to the pesky and expensive constitutional problems with his legislation). With one strike, Cagle put Staton in his place and made oh so many Democrats (read: potential voters) happy. And, there was no real cost to Cagle. The thing was not going to pass anyway, so Cagle looks sane and Cecil, well, looks like Cecil.

It is not, in my opinion, a coincidence that Staton was staunchly in Reed's camp in the election (as in sent an oh-so-sweet op-ed to the Telegraph two days before the primary that discussed Reed's virtues), and Cagle is on record crediting his victory in large part to the twenty-plus sentors who signed the statement asking Reed to withdraw. It was Staton who was at Reed's "victory party" consoling Sadie Fields and complaining about the fun the media would have with Reed's defeat. This was a brilliant political move for Cagle. Staton? Well, one of two things happened. Either (1) Cagle did not tell him that he planned to pull the bill and let him walk into this rather embarrassing situation blind (ouch), or (2) Cagle did tell him, and Cecil, being his arrogant self, filed it anyway betting that Cagle wouldn't pull it. I'm betting on #2 and wager Staton won't do that again.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Okay, so I was premature. That historic hearing that I referred to earlier today didn't happen. The Bibb County Schools had to ask for a continuance because they failed to give proper notice to parents. Not the system's best moment.

Let the Games Begin

The Associated Press is reporting that Sen. Eric Johnson said today that Speaker Glenn Richardson may be subpoenaed as the investigation into possible ethical violations continues. Is this the first of many rounds between Johnson and Richardson? Is he simply going through the motions, rattling the sabres, to quiet the public? Or, can he simply not pass up the chance to investigate a potential opponent for Governor? Maybe, just maybe, Johnson will let the process work.

Regardless, the complaint may have to make it through three Republicans (Johnson, a Republican he appoints and an unspecified senate appointment) before a hearing could happen. That panel can simply find the complaint specious and dismiss it. If I were a Republican, I would want the thing fully investigated. The Foley scandle helped bring the national Republican effort to a screaming halt, not because of Foley's conduct but because Republicans in leadership positions failed to act. Georgia Republicans fail to police the Speaker, and others, at their own political peril. And as long as there is not a open and thorough investigation, the rumors will have legs.

Historic Hearing Today on Bibb School Desegregation Order

There's a little bit of history being made over that the Bootle Federal Court building in Macon today. In the courtroom of Judge Duross Fitzpatrick, a hearing is being held to determine what steps the school system has taken to desegregate Bibb schools in the thirty years since the Federal Court got involved and the M to M transfer policy, as an alternative to mass busing, was implemented. Per Judge Fitzpatrick's ruling last year, the school system no longer utilizes the M to M system, and at the 2 pm hearing today, the plaintiffs and the school system will have the opportunity to present testimony to the court. It is my understanding that Judge Fitzpatrick, in his original ruling, left this case open for a year to see how things went and to have the opportunity for public input. Ultimately, the school system is all but certain to come out from under the deseg order.

I find the ironies of this situation almost too many to count. This hearing is happening in a building named for the Judge who was instrumental in causing schools to become desegregated in Bibb County, and the current hearing and, even the initial ruling of the court, barely caused a ripple. The M to M policy was working poorly in Bibb because it was not subject to any capacity issues, so many parents favored this change. The school system is now majority black, yet this is not a reflection of the demographics of the community. Today, we struggle to fund and make successful a public education system (from which both of my children graduated) that increasingly must deal with the impact of poverty and what the Telegraph a number of years ago dubbed "white flight." In many ways the challenges now are greater than they were thirty years ago.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Infidelity of a Different Sort

We've been talking about Republicans cheating all week, but it seems to me that some Georgia Democrats are guilty of infidelity. Specifically, I'm talking about the seven Democrats who abandoned our party by failing to vote for Rep. Porter and failing to oppose the even-worse-if-that's-possible new House rules. Sure, there are times when a legislator needs to cross party lines to support a bill, but this was not one of those times. This was a time to stand together. Democrats in the Georgia House had two jobs on Monday: 1) Vote for DuBose Porter and 2) Vote against Richardson's awful rules. These were important and largely symbolic votes. Yet, there were seven for whom it was just too much to ask.

What harm did it cause? Well, now the Republicans get to point to seven Democratic votes and say, "See, Richardson is not a lying, cheating scumbag who put self-interest above the interest of the people of Georgia. Even Democrats want him to be the leader." Swell. Thanks lots guys and gals.

Why did they do it? I have no idea. Perhaps they think that if they kiss-up to the Speaker, he'll drop some crumbs their way. I wouldn't hold my breath if I were them. Now no one trusts them now-not the Republicans and certainly not the Democrats. It's sort of like having an affair with a married person and then marrying him or her. It's a good bet that they'll cheat on you, too.

Why do I care? Because all of these legislators got money from Democrats- individually and from Democratic pacs-to help them get elected. Perhaps the Speaker Richardson can help them with their next election. For me, it will be just too much to ask.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Georgia Bloggers Hit Gold at the Dome

As Travis Fain pointed out the the Macon Telegraph this weekend, times, they are a changin'. Georgia bloggers (Andre, Bernita Smith and others) have being granted press credentials in the Georgia Senate. (For what it's worth, Richardson's House seems to be behind the curve. To my knowledge no Democratic bloggers have been granted press credentials in the House as yet.) Plus, Jason Pye and Chris Farris have launched a new legislative watch blog, www.gabills.com, that helps the average citizen track legislation, for free. All this means greater citizen access to government, and that's a good thing.

Yes, it appears Georgia Political Blogs are all grown up and have the power to shine a bright light, in real time, on the legislative process, and that can bring about change. Don't believe me? Bernita was live-blogging the "hearing" on HB1 today, and it was powerful. Check the 60+ comment stream at Blog for Democracy, and notice that the AJC Political Insider picked up the story.

Why does this matter? Bernita painted a picture of the hypocricy and extremism of the radical right that has taken control of the Georgia Republican Party, and in the process, had the Republicans chastising Rep. Franklin. Now that's the power of truth and light. Bernita, you are a rock star!

We need to do a whole lot more of this.

Just for Fun

Today, Bobby Kahn said that if Glenn Richardson was looking for someone to blame, he should start by looking in the mirror. So, what if we all sent Richardson mirrors? Hundreds of mirrors....

Richardson's Rule By Intimidation

According to the Associated Press, Speaker Richardson is on the hunt for those who helped fuel the rumors of his alleged extramarital affair. If you think that Porter and Kahn are shaking in their shoes, think again. The question is, what weapon does one carry when hunting for Republicans? Photographs? Threats regarding leadership posts or committee assignments? Whatever his weapon, it's a shame that Richardson is more than willing to use his position as Speaker to carry out a personal vendetta. He doesn't even do it quietly: he tells the press for God's sake. On his list of criteria for legislation that would be considered, perhaps he should've added, "cannot be sponsored by someone who accused me of having an affair."

No doubt, Richardson didn't become Speaker by being a nice guy. This "hunt" is consistent with his heavy-handed way of dealing with pretty much everything under the Dome. Remember him yelling at the GPTA delegation in the gallery last year? He is known for his temper and his tirades. This is an interesting approach, however. One would think that the Speaker would be working not to give this story legs, but instead, he is fueling the fire with statements like this to the press: "I want to know who else was behind it," he said, adding with a smile: "I'll tell them I didn't like it." That strategy makes me think that there's more to come, and that the Speaker is trying to tamp down the flames before the House catches fire.

Perhaps I missed it, but I have yet to hear the Speaker deny the alleged affair. AGL also chose not to comment on the alleged affair, saying that they as a company had always acted properly. He called it poison, called it manufactured, called it stirred, but never simply called it rubbish. I have a suggestion. If there is photographic evidence relative to these allegations, then publish it. After all, if he is innocent, the pictures would clear his name. See, wouldn't that be easy? So, let's see the pictures. Don't hold your breath.

Today, the question smart people are asking is what caused Burkhalter to back away from the race for Speaker.

Kidd to Be in Macon This Sunday

Jane Kidd, Candidate for Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, will be in Macon this Sunday, January 14th at 4 pm for a meet and greet with area Democrats. The event will be hosted by Amy and Daryl Morton and held at 315 College Street in Macon. All members of the State Committee as well as other Democrats are invited to attend. There is no charge for this event.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Marshall Makes Sense on Iraq

Rep. Jim Marshall and I have seldom agreed on Iraq, but today he participated in a forum called "The Way Forward in Iraq" sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He offers firsthand information as well as a studied approach to the crisis in Iraq. Interestingly, he says that he does not think that we need more troops there now and does not think that we actually, as some have argued, needed more troops there initially. The whole forum is available at this link.

A Substitute Bill

HB 1, the abortion bill, needed just a couple of edits:


To amend Chapter 12 of Title 16 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to crimes against public health and morals, so as to make certain findings of fact; to define certain terms; to provide that any adultery shall be unlawful; to provide a penalty; to provide for severance; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.


Chapter 12 of Title 16 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to crimes against public health and morals, is amended by revising Article 5, relating to adultery, in its entirety as follows:


(a) The State of Georgia has the duty to protect all innocent life from the moment of conception until natural death, to protect families and to defend the sanctity of the marital vows. We know that adultery is immoral and a threat to marriage. After three decades of adultery on demand, it is now abundantly clear that the practice has negatively impacted the people of this state in many ways, including economic, health, physical, psychological, emotional, and medical well-being. These, too, are areas of legitimate concern and duty of the state. The General Assembly therefore makes the following findings of fact:

(1) Justice Blackmun, writing for the majority in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), wrote: 'when those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man´s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer [to the question of when adultery begins].' Now, 30 years later, the General Assembly knows the answer to that difficult question, and all others, because Georgia legislators are, in fact, God. For instance, we know that adultery begins at the moment of extra-marital copulation;

(2) A woman is a person for all purposes under the laws of this state;

(3) Even if the answer to the question of when adultery begins were unclear, the Georgia Constitution, at Article I, Section I, Paragraph II, provides: 'Protection to person and property is the paramount duty of government and shall be impartial and complete. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws.' Because a woman is a person and not property, constitutional protection attaches at the moment of marriage. It is therefore the duty of the General Assembly to protect the innocent lives that are currently being ruined;

(4) As a direct result of three decades of adultery on demand, particularly in the halls of power, the nation has seen a dramatic rise in the incidence of child abuse and a dramatic weakening of family ties, with the decision to pit cheating husbands against their wives;

(5) Studies of the three decades have revealed that women have been deeply wounded psychologically, with one researcher reporting that 81 percent of the women whose husbands had an affair had a preoccupation with his mistress(es), 54 percent had nightmares, 35 percent had perceived visitation with the mistress, and 96 percent felt the affair had taken over their life;

(6) Studies have shown that women whose husbands have affairs require psychological treatment of such symptoms as nervous disorders, sleep disturbances, and deep regrets, with 25 percent of one test group of women who have been cheated on visiting a psychiatrist while only 3 percent of a control group did so;

(7) Another random study showed that at least 19 percent of women who whose husbands have had an affair suffered from diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder, with 50 percent suffering from many, but not all, symptoms of that disorder, and 20 to 40 percent of the women studied showed moderate to high levels of stress and avoidance behavior relative to their experience with infidelity;

(8) Approximately 60 percent of women who have caught their husband in bed with another women and who threw them both out also reported suicidal tendencies with 28 percent actually attempting suicide, of whom half attempted suicide two or more times;

(9) Adultery results in increased tobacco smoking, and women whose husbands have had affair are twice as likely to become heavy smokers and suffer the corresponding health problems as women who have never been cheated on;

(10) Adultery is linked to alcohol and drug abuse, with a two-fold increase in the risk of alcohol abuse among women whose husbands have had an affair and a significant increase in drug abuse;

(11) Most couples find adultery to be an event which shatters their relationship, causing chronic marital troubles and divorce;

(12) Adultery exploits women, treating them and their children as mere property, and adultery is contrary to feminist values embodied by the great suffragette Susan B. Anthony;

(13) Thirty years of adultery on demand have resulted in an increase in breast implants and a study has shown that women who had an whose husbands have affair in the first trimester of pregnancy before experiencing a full-term pregnancy may be at increased risk for divorce;

(14) The practice of adultery has had a profound detrimental effect on the health and well-being of the citizens of this state as well as the health of the economy; and

(15) The practice of adultery has caused the citizens of this state an inestimable amount economically including, but not limited to, the costs and tax burden of having to care for individuals and their families for the conditions cited above, as well as a significant reduction of the tax base and of the availability of workers, entrepreneurs, teachers, employees, and employers that would have significantly contributed to the prosperity of this state.

(b) As used in this Code section, the term:

(1) 'Adultery' means the intentional violation of the marital contract whether or not the intention is to produce a favorable bill or to simply get laid; provided, however, that if an adulterer makes a morally justified effort to save his or her marriage and the marriage does not survive, such action shall not be adultery if divorce has been granted. Such term does not include a naturally occurring expulsion of a semen known medically as a ''nocturnal emission” and popularly as a “wet dream” so long as there is no human involvement whatsoever in the causation of such event.

(2) 'Adulterer' means a person who violates the sanctity of their marital vows at any point. Such term includes all medical or popular designations of an adulterer from the moment of copulation such as slug, slime-ball, player, and similar terms.

(c) The practice of adultery is contrary to the health and well-being of the citizens of this state and to the state itself and is illegal in this state in all instances.

(d) Any person committing adultery in this state shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be punished as provided in subsection (d) of Code Section 16-5-1. The professional license of any person indicted for an alleged violation of this Code section shall be suspended until resolution of the matter. The professional license of any person convicted of a violation of this Code section shall be permanently revoked. The provisions of this Code section shall be in addition to any other provisions relating to punishments for sexual impropriety, or use of one’s position to “get chicks.”

If any portion of this Act is found to be unconstitutional by the courts, the remaining portions of this Act shall remain in full force and effect.

This Act shall become effective upon its approval by the Governor or upon its becoming law without such approval.

All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.

Boys and Their Toys

There are times I think that the Georgia legislature has become the parent that all the guys wanted as teenagers: the parents that let you drink all you want, party all you want and fool around with whomever you want. It seems we have regressed even further to include "drive your four-wheeler anyway, anywhere you want."

Last year the Georgia legislature passed a bill allowing law enforcement to use four-wheelers, ATV's, on the road and for other purposes. Today, in Macon, a deputy was going very fast down Broadway, without his blue light on, changing lanes frequently and nearly having a wreck driving one of those vehicles. I know that the sheriff's department fought hard to get that legislation through, but this does not sound like a safe use of this equipment. And to answer your next question, yes, I am going to let Sheriff Modena know about the incident. What happened this morning had the potential to cause an accident, and since the blue light was quiet, I have to assume there was not emergency.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Gold Club at the Gold Dome?

I know that you thought that Atlanta's famous Gold Club closed up shop about the same time Bruce Harvey and his ponytail climbed up on the defense counsel table to demonstrate the finer points of a lap dance, but based on Bill Shipp's article today, the ethics complaint that has been filed and the rumors of the last week, it's safe to say that, at least in spirit, the Gold Club has just changed it's address-to The Gold Dome, and now the transactions involve a whole lot more than dollar bills stuffed under garters. Indeed, as the 2007 legislative session begins, the Gold Dome looks a whole lot more like the set for an episode of "Cheaters" than a place where the serious business of lawmaking should take place.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Who's Got Whose Backside?

Insider Advantage and WSB-TV are reporting that Georgia Democrats have filed an ethics complaint against Speaker Glenn Richardson alleging that he co-sponsored legislation for a lobbyist with whom he had a "personal relationship." This is the leading edge of a story that's been buzzing in the rumor mill and on the blogs for several days. There have also been rumors that Mark Burkhalter made a move to challenge Richardson for speaker, a challenge that now may not play out. After the smoke cleared, when attending Burkhalter's fundraiser last week, Richardson said, "I have Mark's backside and he has mine." Okay, Glenn, I might not've put it quite that way, but whatever you say.

The bottom line is that as the legislative session begins, lots of questions are being asked about who exactly "had" who and whether those "personal relationships" impacted legislation. We really ought to expect more from our leaders-Democrats or Republicans. If an elected official breaks promises to his family, then what makes us think he or she will keep his promises to the rest of us? Simply put, character really does matter.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Just a Suggestion

A number of well-qualified people have filed their intent to run for DPG party chair or first vice-chair. Not everyone can be elected, and, in fact, my understanding is that if the chair is female, the 1st vice must be male and visa-versa. I know of nothing in the bylaws that prevents folks for filing for more than one position, and hope that some of those with the energy and drive to serve will do just that. Everyone can't be chair.

Richardson Awash in Rumors

Georgia Republicans are looking a little frayed these days. As they jockey for position in the leadership elections to take place on Monday, they risk exposing some of their dirty laundry. Check this story on Peach Pundit. As Bill Shipp noted earlier this week, some questions have arisen about Speaker Richardson's after hours activities. Humm...you know when they start the blaming and explaining they are in real trouble. When they invoke the Clinton metaphor, their goose is cooked. Expect this story to break over the weekend, and expect more causalities as rocks get tossed about the glass house of the Gold Dome. The interesting thing is that it appears that the Republican internal fight for power is to blame for the story breaking. Where's that rigid discipline and party loyalty that helped them gain power? Is this the opening act in the Richardson-Cagle-Westmoreland fight for Governor? This could make Cox-Taylor look like a love-fest.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

I Have Withdrawn

Three weeks ago, when I finalized my decision to run for Candidate Recruitment Vice-Chair, I did so with full awareness of the time commitment required to do this job, and to do it well. Candidate recruitment really is a full-time job, and one that must begin immediately. Unfortunately, due to illness in the family, recently my circumstances changed unexpectedly, and it is clear that I will not immediately be able to devote my full attention to this extremely important task. I am, therefore, withdrawing my name from consideration for Candidate Recruitment Vice-Chair.

I want to thank all of the people who have been so supportive of my candidacy. I have not yet had an opportunity to call each of you personally because it is important to make this decision public as quickly as possible in order to give others the opportunity to run for this vital position. Therefore, I have sent notice today to the Democratic Party of Georgia withdrawing my intent to run. While I regret that this decision was necessary, I want to assure each of you that it is not a reflection on the Democratic Party of Georgia, an organization or on any of the other candidates for office. I will continue to support the Party and our candidates in every way, as I hope you will. We are at a crossroads, and we need the time, energy and ideas of all in order to accomplish the ultimate mission of the Party- electing more great Democrats in Georgia. I believe that we can and we must accomplish this mission, and to that end, I will continue to work to recruit Democratic candidates for offices at every level of government, and I hope that you will do the same.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


Can we just vote now?

According to the BBC, in a few days, Bush will address the nation and tell us that he wants to send more troops, 20,000 or more troops, to Iraq. The mission, dubbed "surge and accelerate" would send troops into Iraq, not to train Iraqi military or police, but instead to secure Baghdad. In the face of evaporating public will for prosecution of this war, in the face of the 3,000th American casualty and 1000 Iraqi deaths every month, Bush will ask the nation to "sacrifice."

When did Bush learn about sacrifice? When he was ducking his own military service?

How can someone who has never known sacrifice ask this of a nation? The troops serving in Iraq know sacrifice. The families of the dead and wounded soldiers know sacrifice. The Iraqi people know sacrifice. Bush? He has grown up in the lap of luxury and has now appropriated the riches of this nation and the lives of our soldiers, and for what? To line the pockets of those who profit from this war. He is ignoring the will of the American people and the advice of his own military commanders. He is not behaving like a President. He is behaving like a tyrant with the most powerful military in the world at his disposal. He is the madman driving the streetcar, and Congress must pull the brake.

If this does not drive the American people into the streets, what will?

Monday, January 1, 2007

Reaching The Deciders

New Year's Eve is our wedding anniversary (13th), so after a really lovely dinner, Daryl and I went to a friend's home to ring in the New Year. Soon after arriving, we met a nice guy, Johnny, a businessman, about our age. It's was his 13th wedding anniversary, too.

Quickly, the discussion turned to politics, and Johnny told us that it was not the partisans on either end of the political spectrum who decide elections, but instead, it's voters like him who vote all the time, but for for the "person not the party." We call the Johnny's of the world swing voters, and some estimate that as many as 40% of Georgians place themselves in this category, depending on how "swing" is defined. Some of these voters are issue driven, others simply vote for the man or women they "trust" or "relate to" (that brain stem voting thing we've talked about.) Johnny said, "Voters like me, we're the deciders." Johnny's right, and Democrats ought not ignore Johnny.

Investing in clean energy, better public education and affordable health care, and keeping the budget balanced by paying for those initiatives by rolling back tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest individuals- that's what the research says appeals to these critical swing voters. To win, Georgia Democrats can't ignore the Johnny's of the world. Swing voters have been the subject of considerable research and attention as political parties try to reach for this decisive group. Consider this from Emerging Democratic Majority:

June 28, 2006

GQR Survey Reveals Swing Voter Priorities
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research has a new report "Swing Nation," which offers clues for securing the support of swing voters. In the executive summary of the study Anna Greenberg and David Walker explain:

Swing voters embrace an agenda that invests more money in new clean energy, affordable health care for all and strengthening education with these investments paid for by eliminating recently passed tax cuts for corporations and people making over $200,000 a year. But swing voters also make plain their concerns about the deficit and government accountability.
The study, conducted 5/20-25, is based on a survey of "self-described Independents and near-independents" in "swing congressional districts" and "swing senate seats" identified by the Rothenberg Political Report, Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato. The survey reports that Dems have a strong lead among swing voters in key House races 45-28 percent, and an even larger lead among swing voters in swing state senate races, 53-31 percent. See the article for a complete list of swing districts and states.

Posted by EDM staff at 09:26 AM link