Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Will Saxby Sink Georgia's Children?

If Sen. Chambliss were not casting his vote on SCHIP in the comfort of the Senate, and instead had to stand at the door to a Georgia doctor's office, turning away sick children, do you think he might change his mind and do the right thing by Georgia's children?

Chambliss seems quite torn about whether he can cast a vote to continue access to adequate healthcare for low income children in Georgia and across the country. I know it's a tough job being a Senator, sitting in his Washington office and engaging in an intellectual debate about whether or not we want to provide working families in Georgia with access to affordable health insurance for their children. Not to worry. If Sen. Chambliss gets too stressed or injuries his finger while voting, he can use his government provided health insurance to see his doctor.

It's easy to see why he struggles with this decision. Never mind that one in every four children in Georgia live in poverty, and 42% of Georgia's children live at or below 200% of poverty. Forget that when children live in poverty, they are at increased risk for poor health, emotional or behavioral problems, depression, anxiety and learning disabilities. Don't bother to mention that making sure that poor children have access to adequate, affordable healthcare is a key to avoiding those negative outcomes-outcomes that fill our hospitals and our jails, at the expense of taxpayers. Sen. Chambliss must stay on GOP message by tossing out buzzwords like "socialized medicine" and wringing his hands about the cost of the program to taxpayers. Funny, I haven't heard him complain about the ten billion dollars a month we spend on the war in Iraq.

Yet, at a forum in Carterville this week, Saxby Chambliss predicted an "interesting debate" in the Senate this week on the reauthorization of SCHIP, the Federal Program that undergirds Georgia's popular and effective PeachCare program. Chambliss complained about Democratic efforts to expand SCHIP, saying, "You and I and every other voter would eventually pay for that program."

I've got news for Sen. Chambliss. We're ALL already paying for the failure to make sure that every child has access to quality, affordable healthcare, and if Congress fails to reauthorize SCHIP, that cost will skyrocket. This is literally a pay me now or pay me later proposition, and the smart money is on SCHIP. In the end, isn't providing access to healthcare for children just the right thing to do-the moral thing to do?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mary Long YouTubes and Wants to Hear From You!

Mary Long is taking a page from the YouTube debates, and asking Georgia Democrats to send questions or comments about what YOU want in your next DNC representative. Mary wants to hear from YOU! Send Mary an email with your questions or comments (longm22@bellsouth.net), or give her a call. Or, if 'you tube,' then make your own video question, email it to her, and she'll respond. (As far as I know, this is the first time a candidate for Georgia Representative to the DNC has used YouTube to reach out to voters.)

You can learn more about Mary, and see a list of some of her many supporters, on her website.

Check the Tubes

The FBI is searching the home of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, possibly in connection with a federal investigation regarding a renovation project more than doubling the size of his home. That renovation was overseen by Bill Allen, a contractor who was the founder of VECO Corp., a concern that was awarded million of dollars in federal contracts before Allen pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators.

Someone tell the agents: don't forget to check the tubes.

Elizabeth Edwards Speaks Up for Net Neutrality

From the Huffington Post, Elizabeth Edwards when speaking at the BlogHer '07 conference, spoke up strongly for Net Neutrality, a position that will have broad appeal in my world. Read the full post here.

All Reichert Has to Do is Keep Breathing

Veronica Brinson, the Macon attorney who launched an effort to run for Mayor as an independent, fell just 21 signatures shy of the number needed to qualify, according to a story just posted on the Telegraph's website. According to the Telegraph she is not going to appeal the count.

Creek Indian vote not withstanding, for Robert Reichert to become Macon's next Mayor, pretty much all the has to do between now and November is keep breathing.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lauren Benedict Stands Up for Mary Long

See what Lauren Benedict, DPG State Committee member and soon-to-be Macon City Councilwoman, has to say about Mary Long's candidacy for DNC representative. This position will be elected at the State Committee meeting in Macon on Aug. 4th.

Feeling Our Way to Victory?

H/T to Mel over at Blog for Democracy for this one. Our own Dr. Drew Westen has a great piece, You Gotta Have Heart, in today's Washington Post. Here's one of my favorite quotes:

Now, perhaps you're sure you're a rational voter and you think that it's just uneducated people who vote with their gut. Well, listen over the next few days to your most educated friends' explanations of why they prefer one candidate over another. "I find him inspiring," they gush about Sen. Barack Obama. "He tells it like it is," they say about Edwards. "He's boring," they sigh about Gov. Bill Richardson. "She knows her stuff, but I just don't like her," they mutter about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now those are reasonable arguments.


Today's article in the AJC, continuing to highlight the failures and abuses in Georgia's mental hospitals, paints a horror house scenario for our most vulnerable children. What is the deal with a state that, on the one hand, willfully houses young, mentally ill children with alleged adolescent sex offenders but, on the other hand, sends another teenager to jail for ten years for having consensual oral sex with someone two years his junior? In our mental "hospitals," the State of Georgia has housed children as young as six, with disorders like autism, with teens and older children charged with sex crimes. Some of those children, who really knows how many, have become victims of sexual abuse while in the state's care.

That's nothing short of malpractice. In fact, I'd call it criminal. Too harsh? I don't think so.

For most people, the idea that a six-year-old could need to be treated in a mental hospital or that a ten year old could be capable of sexual assault is unimaginable. This is very familiar ground for me, though, and I can tell you that it happens more often, to more children, than most imagine. In the late 1980's, I worked for a residential treatment facility that developed a much-needed residential treatment program for young children who had a history of sexual abuse, and who had acted out aggressively, sexually, with other children. I supervised that program. All of the children in the program were under 12, and most were placed by the state. Twenty years ago, and today, treatment standards-and basic common sense-dictated that those children were segregated from other residents and that there was a low child to staff ratio with twenty-four hour eyesight supervision. Even then, safety was an ever-present concern.

It is not at all uncommon for adolescents who commit sexual assaults to also have a mental health diagnosis, and treatment for these individuals is appropriate, but it appears that the State of Georgia was not even following the most basic treatment protocol for our most vulnerable children. They placed accused sex offenders with vulnerable children. That some of those children were sexually assaulted was predictable. I cannot imagine a competent mental health professional signing off on this. Our public mental health system is in shambles. It is underfunded poorly administrated. Who's going to be held accountable?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Edwards Post-Debate: Advocates Public Funding of Elections

Here's the YouTube of Sen. Edwards' post-debate live webcast. I had heard him say, early on, that he favored public funding of elections, and he talks about that again here:

It is interesting that while Republican candidates pan the YouTube format, Edwards not only participated in the debate, but expanded the format into this post-debate live webcast.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Edwards on Top in Iowa

John Edwards has again emerged as the leader in Iowa, a position he has occupied consistently all year. In May, Hillary Clinton briefly edged Edwards out of the lead in this important, early state, but in a poll published today, Edwards has regained the lead, while Clinton and Obama have slipped. On the Republican side, Romney is in the lead.

YouTube-Phobic GOP Candidate Bailing on Debate

I can't find this anywhere on the web, but an article entitled, "Republicans Shy Away From Proposed YouTube Debate" from the New York Daily News is neatly tucked on the back page of today's Telegraph. According to the article, Giuliani has already bailed, citing scheduling conflicts, and Mitt Romney said, "I think the presidency ought to beheld at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman." (Telegraph, July 27, 2007, page, 8A). Apparently, they don't think it's dignified enough for them.

It looks to me as if the Republican frontrunners are afraid of an itsy-bitsy YouTube video. So much for looking fear in the face and not blinking. It's pretty clear to whom the GOP candidates think they are not beholding- You and Me. Bunch of chickens. (No offense to chickens intended.)

And to think, I just taught myself to YouTube...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mary Long for DNC

On Saturday, August 4th, the Democratic Party of Georgia will elect one representative to the DNC. Here's a video endorsement for one of the candidates, Mary Long:

Take a Look: Photos from Edwards Event in Atlanta

Here are a few pictures from the Edwards event in Atlanta on Tuesday. We had a great crowd!

Sen. John Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards

Sen. John Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards, Chuck Byrd, Sheriff Brown

Left to Right: Lauren Benedict, Caroline Moise, Carol Binns, Elizabeth Edwards, Melita Easters and Amy Morton

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We Have Completely Lost Our Minds

The "adultification" of children is now officially absurd. We expect our children to swim in a sea of sexually exploitative media that adults use for fun and profit, and then are surprised when kids act out sexually.

This morning, when I turned on the computer, one of the top stories was about thirteen-year-old boys being charged with sex crimes for slapping girls on the butt at school, and another was about a nine-year-old getting offered a credit card. In our public schools, a child who gets into a fight or "disrupts a school"(a rather broad concept that surely would've included some of the pranks we all pulled as teens), doesn't just get disciplined by the school, but, in addition, often faces charges in juvenile court. We are criminalizing typical teen behavior, applying a one-size-fits-all model and failing to empower the adults closest to the situations-parents and teachers-to apply discipline, reason and compassion.

We have simply forgotten to treat children like, well, children. In Georgia, the Genarlow Wilson case has gotten lots of attention, but the truth is, it's just the tip of the iceberg. I'm no idealist when it comes to addressing sexual offenders or disruptive or dangerous teens. At one point in my life I supervised a residential treatment program for children who had committed sexual offenses and had other significant behavior problems. Gov. Perdue would never be able to cure these children with just the right foster family. For most the intervention was too little, too late. We have dealt our children a ridiculous hand-we expect them to manage adult information and responsibilities and then suffer adult consequences. And, at the same time, we fail to provide their most basic needs, and then marvel that they behave as they do.

Check the new Kids Count data.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

This Place is Packed

It's 5:30 and packed in here. The crowd is chanting "we want John". I've talked with Tim Cairl, Dale Cardwell, Amy Elliott, and more. Gov. Barnes just walked in to do the introduction.

Barnes says everyone in America is for Elizabeth.

John and Elizabeth are here, and she's talking about the poverty tour.

"We have the opportunity to elect a President who believes in each and every one of us," said Elizabeth.

Now John is talking about his health care agenda and James Lowe who lived with a cleft pallete for 50 years. " We need a President who will stand up with them against the powerful insurance companies and drug companies."

"We don't need to replace their Washington insiders with our Washington insiders. Let's take the government away from all of them and give it back to the American people. "

He has issued a challenge today, as he did last night, for the other candidates to join him in a commitment to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour.

Edwards at the Depo

It's 4:45, and I'm at the depo. The room is filling up, and everyone is waiting on the Senator. From Macon, I see Lauren Benedict, Daryl Morton and Terry Tripp. More later.

Live Blogging Small Change

I am headed to Atlanta for Edwards' Small Change event. He and Elizabeth will be on hand, and I will be live blogging. See you at the Depo!

What Really Matters

Monday, July 23, 2007

Edwards: New List of Georgia Endorsements


Atlanta, Georgia – On Tuesday, July 24th, 2007, Senator John Edwards will visit Atlanta to hold a “Small Change for Big Change” grassroots fundraiser. Edwards’ visit comes as he continues to gain strength in the state. Today, more than 20 prominent Georgia Democrats endorsed Edwards as the strongest candidate to put a Democrat back in the White House and the candidate with the boldest ideas to change our country and build One America. The Edwards campaign has been built on reaching out to all Americans – not just those who can give the maximum donation to the campaign, so it has organized grassroots fundraisers around the country for supporters who share Edwards’ commitment to building One America.

The Georgia Democrats endorsing Edwards for president are:

Former Georgia Congressman Ben Jones

Former Georgia State Representative Tom Bordeaux

Mike Cranford, Macon City Councilman

Rick Hutto, Macon City Councilman

Joni Woolf, Former Commissioner of Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning, Founding Member of Women’s Political Network, Founder and Former Editor of Macon Magazine

Terry Tripp, Former Bibb County School Board Member

Melita Easters, Co-Founding Chair of the Georgia WIN List

Amy Morton, Coordinator for Georgia Women for Kerry Edwards in 2004

David Worley, Kerry Chair and Kerry-Edwards Chair in Georgia, Former Chair of Democratic Party in Georgia

Sacha Taylor, Founder and President of Nannies + More

Lauren Logan Benedict, Macon City Council Elect, Macon Attorney; Democratic Activist

Fred Orr, Atlanta Attorney; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

Martin Chitwood, Atlanta Attorney; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

Tim Morrison, Atlanta Attorney; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

Tim Santelli, Atlanta Attorney; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

James Butler, Columbus Attorney; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

Ronald Lowry, Marietta Attorney; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

Adam Malone, Atlanta Attorney; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

Tommy Malone, Atlanta Attorney; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

Michael Moore, Macon Attorney; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

Sachin Shailendra, Atlanta Businessman, The Shailendra Group; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

Glenn Sturm, Atlanta Attorney; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

Trip Tomlinson, Columbus Attorney; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

Teresa Tomlinson, Columbus Attorney; Democratic Fundraiser and Activist

*This list is does not include many prominent Georgia Democrats who have previously endorsed Sen. Edwards.

Candidate Wants to Give Macon Back to the Indians

This qualifies as the most unique idea I've ever heard from a candidate for anything. David Cousino, the winner of the Republican mayoral primary in Macon, Georgia, has a unique proposal to spur city growth and protect Macon from terrorism. He wants to return the land to its rightful owners: the Creek Indian Nation.

According to the Telegraph, Cousino says that he's not giving anything away. He just wants to return the land to it's rightful owner. He claims that those who own property in the city would have no worries, after all, the Creek Nation would need them for the tax base. The city, he says, would be incorporated by the Creeks, and would grow "overnight." And, we'd be much safer:

He said becoming part of the Creek territory also would help ensure residents' safety, because Cousino believes that terrorists wouldn't view the city as a target if it wasn't part of the traditional United States."Whatever the best interests of the citizens, I'm here to protect our city," Cousino said.

Think this approach might work for NYC?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

You Get What You Pay For

$931, 000. That's what lobbyists spent wining, dining and entertaining elected officials during this year's 65 day legislative session. Thank God for sine die, or they would've hit a million. The AJC has three articles today on lobbyist spending in Georgia: Raining Freebies, Jerry Keen, a Lavished Lawmaker, and Lawmakers and Freebies.

While Jerry Keen has officially won the lobbyist lottery, these expenditures are part of the cozy culture in Atlanta. According to the information available on the Georgia State Ethics Commission website, among lawmakers who represent a portion of Bibb County, my representative, freshman Allen Peake received the most perks from lobbyists. Here are the 2007 numbers for legislators who represent a portion of Bibb County:

Rep. Allen Peake: $1785.85

Rep. Nikki Randall: $1682.15

Rep. Allen Freeman: $1598.42

Rep. Tony Sellier: $1210.57

Sen. Cecil Staton: $449.28

Sen. Robert Brown: $152.48

Rep. David Lucas: $20.51

Speaker Glenn Richardson dismisses concerns about whether the luxuries lobbyists lavish upon lawmakers give them, and the interests they represent, undue influence:

Holding his thumb and index finger an inch apart Richardson said: " I have this much time in a day. I extend the day by going out and meeting with other people....I know there's people who look and go, 'All they want to do is go out to dinner and wine and dine'....People want time with me."

Isn't that the problem? He who pays for dinner gets access, and with elected officials, access is everything. How can anyone, with a straight face, even debate whether or not expenditures by lobbyists influence lawmakers? It is the job of lobbyists to influence lawmakers. That's what they're hired to do, and if spending money didn't further that purpose, then the money would stay in the bank. Think about it this way, if DPG chair Jane Kidd were buying Richardson's secretary's lunch everyday, would he be concerned? You bet he would, as well he should.

Plus, this data doesn't even begin to touch the money that the firms these lobbyists represent contribute directly to the campaign accounts of elected officials. And, then there's the infamous "speaker's fund."

Here's what I think. Folks work for the person who signs their check. Let's cut out lobbyist spending and raise the salaries of legislators (now $17,341.00) to the same level we pay entry level teachers. Even though the legislative session is only a portion of the year, by not paying a full time salary, we increase the temptation to take the lobbyist perks and greatly limit the pool of people who can offer themselves for service. Think about it. How many jobs allow employees to take about four months a year off to serve in the legislature, never knowing when they might be called back for a special session? Let's pay a reasonable salary and put an end to the "eatin, drinkin' and legislatin'" culture that breeds corruption in Atlanta.

Wall Street Journal on Elizabeth Edwards

Today's Wall Street Journal has a wonderful, intimate, page one profile of Elizabeth Edwards. It really is worth the read.

On Tuesday, if you live in or near Atlanta, you have an opportunity to see Sen. and Mrs. Edwards at Small Change for Big Change, an event at The Georgia Freight Depo. The event kicks off at 4:45 PM. The cost is only $15.00. It's the place to be on Tuesday! RSVP here.

A Shoe-In for Peace

To the degree that fashion is a reflection of the public mood, peace is now officially cool, even among higher income Americans. I know this because yesterday when Daryl and I were shopping in Atlanta, I came across several pairs of Donald J. Pliner shoes decorated with jeweled peace signs. For those not familiar, Pliner is an American designer of high-end shoes, belts and handbags. His shoes are pricey, at least for my budget, with many pairs ringing up in excess of $250.00. Note to Congress and the President: when peace signs show up on $250 sandals, it's a signal that you're out of step.

Actually, I was for peace before it was cool. My favorite piece of jewelry is a specially made peace sign pendant with tiny diamonds my husband gave me for an anniversary gift three years ago. I get more comments on that quarter-sized pendent than anything else I wear. Trust me, those comments have changed some over the last three years. The polls reflect it, too. Public sentiment is no longer with this war.

Some in Congress are fond of saying that this is "George Bush's War." That's true, but with every day that passes with Democrats in Congress failing to act to do what they can do to force the President's hand to bring our troops home, the war belongs more and more to them as well. It seems as though all this administration has to do to keep Democrats in check is to call them names. As long as this war goes on, why do we think that anyone who is now in Congress can be elected President?
And, no. I did not buy the sandals.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Georgia Democratic Homecoming-- Oct. 6

You’re Invited

A Georgia Democratic Homecoming

October 6

The Georgia Federation of Democratic Women
will begin their Fall Meeting by recognizing some
Very, Very, Very special Democrats and end with a
Doo Wop Concert at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center Jonesboro.

Our Family Reunion won’t be the same without you so mark your calendar now!

For final details check www.gfdw.blogspot.com

Mary Modena Gail Buckner
478-742-6970 770-473-9039
moeknight@cox.net gailbuckner@bellsouth.net

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Price of Poverty

Tonight, someone told me that a platform on poverty could not win an election. "Poor people, "she said, "often don't vote." There's some truth in that, from a political perspective. Yet, poverty is the issue that is at the core of other ills, especially in rural America. Our current leaders lack the political courage to address poverty, perhaps because to address it will require significant change and significant investment, or perhaps because "poor people don't vote." Either way, there's not a lot of political capitol to be gained by working to eliminate poverty.

Still , we must. In my community, Bibb County, Georgia, there are more families who have an income of less than $10,000.00 per year than families who have an income greater than $75,000.00 per year. According to The University of Georgia Initiative on Poverty and the Economy, here, nearly one in every five people and more than 15% of all families live at or below the poverty line. More than one in four children (28.41%) in Bibb County live in poverty, and because many families who can afford to do so send their children to private schools, the poverty rate for children in our public schools is much higher than even that startling number. More than 60% of our public school children qualify for free or reduced price lunch. I've heard Sharon Patterson, our superintendent, talk about the fact that for many, the breakfast and lunch they get at school is all the have to eat, and she worries that during summer break, many go hungry.

It's fair to say that in Bibb County, the face of poverty is a single, black mother. Here, nearly 80% of those who live in poverty are black. Here, nearly 30% of all families are headed by a single female. If you are (1) female; (2) black; (3) a mother, and (4) unmarried, you have hit the poverty aces, and for you, the poverty rate soars to nearly 70%.

The impact of these statistics can be seen in the growing cost of healthcare for the indigent and uninsured, the number of blighted neighborhoods and the struggle our public schools face to keep children in school. I do believe that poverty is a moral issue, but it is also an issue of simple economics. It makes sense to help people climb out of poverty, to become self-sufficient. Access to healthcare, especially preventative care, good public schools and jobs with decent wages are the keys. Yet, right now, our President, while he waits to undergo a colonoscopy-preventative care unavailable to the 47 million uninsured in this country-threatens to veto a bill that would help make sure that children of working families do have access to health insurance. What sort of arrogance does that require?

Perhaps my friend is right, poverty is not the issue that will win an election, but she would agree, it is an issue we must insist our leaders have the courage to confront.

Poll: Do You Favor Nonpartisan Elections in Macon?

I have my own opinions about this, and almost no one agrees with me. So, I want to know what you think and why. How about voting in this poll and posting your rationale in the comments.

Elizabeth Tonight on Larry King

Elizabeth Edwards is clearly not intimidated by Bill Clinton's statements yesterday. Elizabeth Edwards will be on CNN tonight with Larry King to discuss her comments about Hillary Clinton and her own more "front and center" role in her husband's campaign. The program airs at 9 pm on CNN. Should be interesting.

President Cheney

Cheney will become President briefly while Bush undergoes a colonoscopy. And you thought it couldn't get any worse. The comment stream on this story is well worth the click.

Good Lord: Transplant Tourism?

Prisoners receiving shortened sentences for organ donation? Impoverished Turkish donors traveling to London for to have kidneys harvested for wealthy patients? Robert Parham, over at Ethics Daily, has an editorial about the "systemic corruption in the procurement and trade of human organs."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Edwards Dominates Rural Georgia Fundraising

The New York Times has a cool, interactive map that makes it easy to see when and where the presidential candidates have raised their millions. A few minutes with that map makes one thing very clear: in rural Georgia John Edwards has raised more money than any other candidate.

In Georgia zip codes 31000-31999 (aka South of the Gnat Line), Edwards has raised $132,678.00, and that's more than all of the Republican candidates combined ($130,766.00) and more than all of the Democratic candidates combined ($72,160.00). While metro-Atlanta is famous for it's deep political pockets, these are impressive numbers from an area of the state not famous for political giving.

I need to do some additional research, but a glance at the map makes it appear that this is not just a Georgia phenomenon, but instead an important trend in terms of Edward's support in rural areas. For instance, in Iowa, Edwards ($67,563.00) has edged out both Clinton ($41,808.00) and Obama ($66,425.00), and the same is true in South Carolina (Edwards: $226,555.00; Obama: $190,853.00; Clinton: $77,114.00). Of course, South Carolina is Edwards' birthplace.

So, what is it about Edwards that appeals to rural America? Maybe it's his pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps-story, that he is the son of a mill worker and the first in his family to go to college. Maybe it's just the fact that he is a son of rural America, something that drives his commitment to address poverty with a real plan instead of pretty words. Whatever it is, he seems to have struck a cord.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards: Front and Center (and in Atlanta)

Elizabeth Edwards will join her husband, Sen. John Edwards, in Atlanta on July 24th, and you are invited!

There are actually two events. Here's a link to the information about the "Small Change" event, and here's a link to the reception. I hope to see you at one or both.

Take a look at the campaign's new ad featuring Elizabeth that began airing in NH today.

Matt Towery Supports Hillary? Upated/Not Exactly...

Is Matt A. Towery of Atlanta, Georgia who is listed on the FEC site as giving Hillary Clinton $2300.00 the same Matt Towery of Insider Advantage fame who wrote this article?

Update Courtesy of Matt Towery:
Matt Towery said...
Sorry to pour cold water on this story, but the Matt Towery who gave to Hillary Clinton is my son, Matthew A. Towery, Jr who is an adult). He has his own money (too much of it) and is an adamant Democrat. I myself am not allowed to give to candidates per my contract. I hope this clears this matter up and your site (which I enjoy) will reflect the correction. Yours, Matt Towery, InsiderAdvantage (mtowery@insideradvantage.com)>

3:26 PM

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Well, I Be Damned...

Reichert took the thing without a runoff, and Whitehead came in second when only first mattered. I missed the festivities in Macon tonight because I was out of town plotting to elect lots of pro-choice women to the Georgia General Assembly. The results, of both our municipal races and the 10th congressional district, were a little surprising. I thought that Reichert might pull it off without a runoff, but never dreamed it would be by such a margin. The other local surprise was Rick Hutto-not that he had the most votes but that he also avoided a runoff. Part of what happened in Macon was due to Republican cross-over voting, but I think that more of the credit goes to the hard work of the people in Reichert's campaign. I know that they wore out shoes walking and knocking on doors. A measure of credit also goes to the people of Macon who ignored race and just voted for the person who was best able to lead. Congratulations to all who won, and a tip of the hat to all who ran.

Monday, July 16, 2007

We're Turning a Corner

In Macon, that is. There's been much predicting and prognosticating in the last week, but no one really knows what's going to happen. As far as I know, no one has done any real polling, and the situation is Macon is unique. Here are some of the key factors that will impact this election:

  • We've been to hell and back with Jack Ellis. Lots of hopes were dashed, lots of folks got burned. Mayor Ellis got himself in so much trouble that when he did have a good idea, or did something good, people were skeptical, and that ended up being as much of a problem as anything else.
  • People seem generally dissatisfied with local government. I'll bet if we had "approval ratings" for the mayor and city council, they'd be competing for the basement with the President and Congress.
  • For the first time in eight years, the mayor's seat is open.
  • Robert Brown has been very, very quiet making some wonder how much of a factor he will be tomorrow. The word was that he and Reichert struck and deal. Is that true? And if so, what value is that deal if Robert is not visible in his race?
  • Key Republicans are pushing other Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary. This will benefit Reichert, Hutto, Schlesinger, Moffett and Ellington.
  • Turnout has been high in early voting. I predict that more than 21,000 will vote in this primary, and that's about 10% more than in the past two Democratic primaries for mayor.

Though I have predicted otherwise, it's just possible that Robert Reichert will become Macon's next mayor without a runoff. The Morning Post Office Committee says that lots of African Americans are planning to vote for Reichert; they are uninspired by the other candidates. No matter what happens, Macon is turning a corner. I think that this election is about change. That's bad news for incumbents, but probably good news for the city.

Some Useful Information/Precinct Locations

Turns out that precinct locations are not posted on the Bibb Board of Election website. They provide a link to the SOS site where an individual voter could look up their precinct, but that was it. So, in honor of election day tomorrow, here's the list of those in the City:

EM-1: River Edge Behavorial Center (478) 751-4519
EM-2: Mt. Moriah Baptist Church (478) 745-1890
EM-3: Shurling Baptist Church (478) 742-1488
EM-4: Northeast Magnet High School (478) 751-6787
EM-5: New Griswoldville Baptist Church (478) 743-9370

GF-1: Ingram/Pye Elementary (478) 751-6736
GF-2: I. Edwin Mack Worship Center (478) 785-0607
GF-3: Central Church of Christ (478) 745-2752
GF-4: Houston Heights Baptist (478) 788-4911
GF-5: Jessie Rice School (478) 788-3147
GF-6: Glenwood Hills Baptist (478) 788-9141
GF-7: Harvest Cathedral (478) 781-7157

HA-1: Macon Mall (478) 477-8840
HA-5: W.T. Morgan School (478) 784-3141
HA-6: Agnes Barden School (478) 784-3125

HO-1: Vineville North Baptist Church (478) 476-1971
HO-4: Elam Alexander Academy (478) 471-5402
HO-5: North Macon Park (478) 477-8526
HO-6: McKibben Lane School (478) 471-5416
HO-7: Woodfield Academy (478) 477-9844

VV-1: Progressive Christian Academy (478) 742-3134
VV-2: Vineville Academy (478) 751-6723
VV-3: Brookdale Elementary (478) 751-6714
VV-4: Joseph Riley School (478) 751-6746
VV-5: Butler School (478) 474-5413
VV-6: Northminister Presbyterian (478) 477-6646
VV-7: Ingleside United Methodist Church (478) 474-1703
VV-8: Willian S. Hutchings Career Center (478) 621-2535

Democrats Winning Money Race in Georgia

Georgians may be voting red, but, when it comes to presidential politics, we're giving blue. The most recent FEC filings show that in Georgia, for the first two quarters of 2007, Democratic presidential candidates out-raised Republicans by more than half a million dollars.

Though Obama continues to lead the field of Democratic candidates and nip at the heels of Mitt Romney, John Edwards also has some impressive numbers, raising significantly more outside of metro-Atlanta than other Democrats, and in many areas more than the nearest Republican, Mitt Romney. Here are some quick numbers per new FEC interactive site. (They have seriously misplaced Columbus on this map, but otherwise, it really is fun to play with.)

All Candidates: $3,401,717
Democrats: $1,953,545 (57.42%)
Republicans: $1,448,171 (42.57%)
Romney (R): $762,159
Obama (D): $749,544
Edwards (D): $605,513
Clinton (D): $402,586
Giuliani (R): $360,250

Giving Outside Metro-Atlanta (sample)

Middle Georgia (312xx)
Total: $60,525
Edwards: $49,150
Romney: $4,000
Obama: $2,267
Clinton: $ 500

Middle Georgia (310xx)
Total: $58,030
Edwards: $35,635
Romney: $ 8,250
Clinton: $ 5,195
Obama: $ 250

Columbus (319xx)
Total: $34,906
Edwards: $18,270
Clinton: $8,525
Romney: $ 4,211
Obama: 0

Savannah (314xx)
Total: $72,734
Edwards: $19, 174
Romney: $16,925
Obama: $6,965
Clinton: 0
(Dodd also raised $18,400 in this zip)

Athens (306xx)
Total: $63,489
Edwards: $26,889
Romney: $18,300
Clinton: $7,675
Obama: $2,375

This is crossposted at Georgia Votes Edwards.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It's A Hard Day's Night in Macon

Starting in the morning at 7 AM, Lance Randall is on the clock for 24 hours with what he has dubbed "A Hard Day's Night Campaign Tour." Lance, you could also have used, "The Magic Mayoral Mystery Tour" and still kept the whole Beatles thing going. Anyway, here's his schedule, just in case any of you have a hankering for a donut about 1 AM:

JULY 16 – JULY 17, 2007

Monday July 17, 2007

7:00 a.m. – Kick-Off Press Conference by Lance Randall. Downtown Macon Terminal Station. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Randall will also speak about Mayor Ellis’s endorsement of Anita Ponder.

7:30 a.m. – Breakfast at H&H Restaurant. 807 Forsyth Street .478-742-9810

8:30 a.m. – Walking Tour of East Macon neighborhoods and businesses. Tour will begin at Davis Homes Community on Main Street. Randall will be accompanied by Medina Williams, President of the Davis Homes Neighborhood Association.

10:00 a.m. – Media Interview with Mike Roberts, Foxy 107. Gordon Highway location. 478-745-3301

11:15 a.m. – Tour of new small business, Gantt’s Adult Daycare, 345 Edwards Avenue, 478-745-0333. Lilly Ruth Evans will accompany Randall.

12:15 p.m. – Lunch at The Bear’s Den, 1191 Oglethorpe Street, 478-745-9909 several area residents will join Randall for lunch to discuss City issues

1:15 p.m. – Walking Tour of Pleasant Hill/In town Macon/Beall’s Hill neighborhoods. Randall will pay a special visit to his late Grandfather “Daddy Bill” Randall’s house at 349 Grant Avenue in Pleasant Hill.

2:15 p.m. – Walking Tour of Eisenhower Parkway Retail Corridor.

3:00 p.m. – Meeting with Bruce O’Levy, Manager of Macon Mall. Randall will present his recovery plan for the Macon Mall.

3:55 p.m. – Ride #9 bus from Macon Mall to Terminal Station downtown.

5:15 p.m. – Walk through Downtown Macon.

6:00 p.m. – Final Campaign Committee Meeting and Rally. Rosewood Ballroom 170 College Street. 743-9801

7:00 p.m. – Walking Tour of Ingleside neighborhood. Randall will be accompanied by Carlen Self of 238 Vista Circle. 478-750-9120.

8:00 p.m... – Shift change at Precinct 2. Houston Avenue. PBA members and officials to be there. Randall will expand on his proposal to create a public safety trust fund.

8:15 p.m. – Presentation on the Black Male Initiative at Mosque #93. 1695 Third Street, 478-744-0913. Minister Darryl Muhammad 478-744-0913

9:15 p.m. – Walking Tour of Houston Avenue/Peach Orchard neighborhoods. Several neighborhood residents will walk with Randall.

10:00 p.m. – Late night dinner at Waffle House. 4285 Pio NoNo Avenue.478-784-0635

10:45 p.m. – Meet workers at shift change at Armstrong World Industries 4520 Broadway. 478-788-6126.

12:30 a.m. – Meet at Krystal Restaurant. 2863 Pio NoNo Avenue. 478-781-7230.

1:00 a.m. – Tour of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.2800 Pio NoNo Avenue 478-781-9460.

2:00 a.m. – Tour of Kroger. 400 PioNoNo Avenue.

3:00 a.m. – Meet and greet supporters at home of Dawn Kiett. 1160 Hillyer Avenue.

4:00 a.m. – Tour of Waffle House. 2644 Riverside Drive. 478-745-9999

5:00 a.m. – Tour of Waffle House. 3620 Riverside Drive. 478-477-3557.

6:00 a.m. – Sunrise Worship Service. Randall to play and speak to crowd. Macedonia Baptist Church Chapel 600 Eisenhower parkway. Several guest speakers will address group.

7:00 a.m. – Randall to vote at Ingram/Pye Elementary School. Anthony Road.

Note: Tour schedule is subject to change

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Pro-Choice, Pro-Gay Rights Republican in Georgia?

Let me just say, God bless Jason Cecil, President of YD Georgia. He went to the YR meeting last night in Buckhead where Mike Jacobs (state legislator, ex-democrat and opportunist extraordinaire') was basking in his newly-donned GOPness. When Q&A rolled around, here's what happened:

....the talk FINALLY ended, and Mike opened it up for questions. There were many follow-ups on economic policy, which is the heart of Mike's Republican change.I did raise my hand for a question, and Mike actually called on me. I asked him if was still pro-choice and pro-gay rights. I could tell the question angered him, because I pointing out an area that his new Republican friends would not likely appreciate....his socially liberal views. He tried to "politician" me by saying he's always said he supported individual rights, to which I replied, "But that doesn't answer..." and then he erupted. "YES! Alright? YES! The answer is YES." He lost his cool, and I had pointed out a difference that many of the GOP faithful would NOT approve of. My work was done.

Go read all about it on Jason's blog, and don't skip the part about the prayer.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lance Randall Surprises Me, Again

Not in a good way this time. This is bad in so many ways. Randall's campaign manager comes off like a bully. This story will grace the Telegraph the weekend before the election. Ouch.

Sad Reality

If anyone questioned whether race would be a factor in Macon's election on Tuesday, here's your answer.

Has the GOP Accomplished This?

Thanks to Patty, we have a brand new, Georgia born, mascot for the DPG. Top that, Sue.

Lance Randall Surprised Me

I have not endorsed any candidate in the mayor's race in Macon, and this should not be construed as an endorsement. I get a lot of mail from candidates, but Lance Randall surprised me today. When I came back from lunch, I had a thick envelope in the mail from "Randall fro Mayor." Since I cannot vote in this race, I assumed that this was a request for a donation and opened the envelope expecting a contribution envelope to be included. I was wrong.

Instead, I found a letter describing the importance of this race and asking for "strong support" but never for money. His campaign platform was included, and he invited the reader to "review it, study it, challenge it" and offer him sincere feedback. He provided a phone # where he could be reached. It was kind of refreshing.

The planks of his platform begin with a "Clean Campaign Pledge." Randall says that he will run a clean campaign for the mayor's office and will not run a campaign against any other candidate. In other words, no negative ads, no "Saturday Surprise," and no mysterious fliers showing up in mailboxes over the weekend. I have to say, to this point, as far as I know, Randall has kept this pledge. But, I don't live in the City, so since he has put this out there, if anyone knows different, feel free to respond.

The other planks focused on Ethics and Accountability, Financial Recovery and Stabilization, Economic and Small Business Development, Tourism and Intergovernmental Cooperation.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Golden Rule Politics

For the last several months, I have been corresponding with Dr. Robert Parham who is with The Baptist Center for Ethics in Tennessee. They are working on a DVD that challenges the idea that is you're a Christian, then you must also be a Republican. Democrats, with the help of people like Jim Wallis, are beginning to talk about the rightful role of faith in politics. For instance, the group Faithful Democrats was founded by Roy Herron, a Tennessee state senator. The Baptist Center for Ethics DVD features both ministers and politicians discussing the topic. I've seen a rough cut, and it is very well done. Here's a tease:

When I had the opportunity to visit with David Westen the other night, he made the point that it is not important that our elected leaders be of a particular faith, but it is important that they be people of good faith. I think that's right.

Hypocrites Against Tax Equity

Glenn Richardson wants to put a constitutional amendment (HR 900) on the ballot that allows the state to tax your child's haircut, his daycare, his doctor's appointment and his trip to the dentist. But he's okay with that because Glenn and his rich friends, along with large, multi-state corporations, will make out like bandits. Now does that sound "fair" to you?

Rep. Glenn Richardson is loading his gun, ready to take another shot at middle class families in Georgia. His "GREAT" plan to eliminate all property taxes in Georgia, in favor of higher sales tax and new taxes on services, will put the screws to working families in Georgia who are already struggling to make ends meet. But Glenn doesn't care about these families. He proved that during the last session when he worked to limit their access to basic health insurance for their children. Glenn wants you to think that this tax disaster is about helping homeowners, but the facts just don't support that claim. He does care about his Big Development buddies and the large multi-state corporations this plan will benefit. Consider this:

Many Georgia families do not own their homes. According to the University of Georgia's Initiative on Poverty and the Economy, only 67.50% of Georgians own their homes, only 58.80% of those in Bibb County own their own homes. Why is the number lower in Bibb? Because we have higher poverty. People who have money are more likely to own property.

My point? There are a whole lot of people in Georgia who will not benefit directly from the elimination of property taxes. The increase in sales tax, along with the imposition of a brand new tax on services could constitute a substantial tax increase on middle class, working families and the poor. Sales taxes are considered "regressive" by respected economists and shift more of the tax burden to poor and middle class families.

The short story? If you're a large, multi-state corporation, you might think this is GREAT, but if you are an everyday working person, struggling to pay the bills, you're going to HATE this bill.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Too Funny

Just go here. Trust me. Go here.

McDade Violated Federal Law

Per the AJC, Atlanta U.S. Attorney David Nahmias says McDade violated federal law when he distributed the Wilson videotape. Nahmias says that the tape is child pornography and that it is illegal for anyone to possess or distribute. Federal law on child porn trumps state law on open records. I guess that means McDade avoided the possible fine and misdemeanor for violation of the open records act but has exposed himself to a serious felony, as have those who have received, possessed or viewed the tape.

Does this mean that they're going to arrest Bill O'Reilly?

And Senator Eric Johnson?

Worthwhile for Whom?

Imagine that you are a nineteen-year-old girl, horrified that a videotape of you having sex has been circulated to dozens of people. Legislators have watched it. Bloggers have had it "described to them," and portions of the tape have shown up on television news shows. Imagine how embarrassed, how ashamed, how violated you would feel. Now, imagine that a prosecutor, someone who said they believed that you were a victim, someone who you thought was on your side, was the one who distributed that tape, in response to a request, and without so much as a fight.

I don't know about you, but I think that people who distribute videotapes of teens having sex ought to go to jail.

Yet, in the Genarlow Wilson case, that's exactly what Prosecutor David McDade did. According to Shannon McCaffrey with the Associated Press, McDade, to comply with open record requests, admitted giving out about 35 copies of an amateur video showing Wilson receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl and having intercourse with another 17-year-old girl. The tape was used as evidence at trial, and McDade claims that compliance with Georgia's Open Records Act required that he give the tape to those who asked for it. That may be, but he didn't even bother to object to the requests. And he didn't even bother to obscure the faces of the victims.

And, this is not the first time the tape has been made available. Erick Erickson wrote about it on Peach Pundit in February:

I think, if I could get my hands on it, it would be worthwhile making the video tape of the incident available to the public. Even blowhard Bill O’Reilly who championed Genarlow has had to back away from his position after seeing the tape.

In the post, Erickson says (in the comments) that he has not seen the tape but has had it "described" to him. Apparently, O'Reilly did see it. But, for whom was releasing the videotape worthwhile? Certainly not to these young women or their families. Certainly not to the court. Only worthwhile to McDade.

This prosecutor has made what is important to him perfectly clear: bolstering his "position."

To do that, McDade has now put personal promotion ahead of protection of victims. McDade could have objected to complying with the open records requests. He could've forced a hearing on the issue, just as he has time and time again on other issues in this case. But he didn't. He claims that those who don't want the tape seen are disingenuous. "Most of those who do not want people to see the tape know that it is damning to their position," McDade said. This case is not about positions, it is about people's lives, and any argument that Mr. McDade would now make that his actions are about protecting victims is completely obscured by this act.

No matter where one stands on Wilson's sentence, the prosecutor should have taken extraordinary steps to protect these young women from the additional humiliation they now must feel. This is just wrong.

Lucas Endorses Ponder

Despite his comments last week, the Telegraph now reports that Rep. David Lucas has endorsed Anita Ponder in the Democratic Primary for Mayor of Macon. Will this make the difference for Anita? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Poll: Hutto, Moffett or Youmas?

The race for Macon's Ward I, Post I seat on City Council is one of the most hotly contested races in town. It is rare for a race to feature not one, but two sitting council members (Hutto and Youmas) plus a capable newcomer who has earned the endorsement of the Telegraph. I cannot begin to call this race. Who earns your vote for this citywide seat? Vote now in our "decidedly unscientific poll."

Georgia's Hottest Political Export

Drew Westen may just be Georgia's hottest new export. According to The New York Times today, this Emory professor is being heavily courted by Democrats, including Bill Clinton who has read his book and underlined it for his wife. Much of what Westen recommends cuts against taking the safe road on tough issues. Consider this:

As Dr. Westen sees it, the decision to keep quiet when confronted with negative attacks or difficult and controversial subjects like race, abortion and gay rights is always a mistake. “Democrats run from every issue where there’s passion involved,” he complains. “If you don’t say anything, you are giving them” — your opponents — “the right to define the public’s feeling.”

Quick, Jane, grab Dr. Westen and and download his brain!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Fred the Fake: The Ultimate Washington Insider

How ironic that, according to The Marietta Daily Journal, Sen. Eric Johnson has dubbed Fred Thompson a "down to earth candidate" for whom there is "no political correctness." While Johnson was spinning the truth on the floor of the Georgia Senate to make sure Genarlow Wilson stayed in jail, Fred Thompson was working just as hard to make sure Scooter Libby never saw the inside of a cell.

In 2006, Thompson served on the advisory board for Libby's legal defense fund and hosted a fundraiser for Libby at his home. So, while Johnson was working to make sure that one jury's verdict stood, without regard to truth or justice, Thompson was working to make sure another jury's verdict was up-ended, again without regard for truth or justice. Is their mutual lack of regard for what is just what Johnson refers to as "down to earth"? It's hard to know, but I can see what they have in common.

I agree that this actor can act down to earth, like when he rented a red pick up truck and used it as a campaign prop during the Tennessee senate campaign so he could pretend to be every man's man. The truth is that Fred Thompson is an actor, a lawyer, a lobbyist and the ultimate Washington insider. Don't buy the act.

Edwards Announces Road to One America Tour

The first thing I want you to know is that the Edwards campaign included local bloggers, along with more traditional media outlets, on a conference call with Edwards' Campaign Manager, David Bonior today. Yes, right along with the Washington Post, Fox News, Gannett and others, local bloggers were invited to participate, and that was very cool.(Thanks to Jon Flack for sending over the information.)

The purpose was for Bonior to announce that on July 16th, 17th and 18th, Sen. Edwards will lead the "Road to One America Tour." His plan to reduced poverty by 12 million in ten years and end poverty in thirty years will be the focus as Edwards begins in New Orleans and travels to eight different states, visiting some of the most poverty stricken communities in the United States. None of the states included are early primary states, and for the three days of the tour, Sen. Edwards will do the unthinkable in the world of Presidential politics: he will not do any fundraising events.

Bonior pointed out that poverty is not a new issue for Edwards, saying, "This will be the center part of his life, for the rest of his life." He pointed to Edwards' investment in the Center for Poverty at The University of North Carolina, his personal participation in more than 180 union organizing events and his work on projects like "College for Everyone" as examples of Edwards action on poverty. Edwards has said that if you're working in America today, you ought not be working for poverty wages. We all know the grim statistics on poverty. One in eight Americans live in poverty. (In Georgia, one in five children live in poverty.) During these three days, Edwards will seek to put a face on poverty. As he has said, statistics don't go to bed hungry at night-people do.

It occurs to me that campaign financial disclosures are due on July 15th, so while the pundits are busy with the money race, Edwards will be telling quite a different story about what's really at stake in this election.

This is cross-posted at Tondees Tavern.

Reichert and Randall Make the GWV Run-off

In the GWV decidedly unscientific poll regarding the Democratic Primary for Mayor of Macon, no one got more than 50% of the vote. So, as promised, here's our "run-off" poll between the two top vote-getters: Robert Reichert (42.9%) and Lance Randall (28.6%):

The other candidates received: Henry Ficklin (18.4%), Thelma Dillard (6.1%) and Anita Ponder (4.2%). For the record, I have endorsed no one in this race, but the poll results do reflect my personal prediction for the outcome next Tuesday. My guess, and that's all it is, is that Reichert will win but will not have enough votes to avoid a runoff, and I predict that the other candidate in the runoff will be Lance Randall, though I would not be shocked it either Henry Ficklin or Anita Ponder were in second place. Good luck to all of you!

Moffett and Lucas Earn Telegraph's Endorsement

Early voting began today, and it appears that the Telegraph has gone with common sense rather than "God's endorsement" and given the nod to Elaine Lucas. The paper points out her experience, reliability and ability to "get things done."

In another hotly contested races, the Telegraph has given the nod to Keith Moffett, of Politics and Lunch fame, over his two opponents, incumbents Rick Hutto and Brenda Youmas. (Hutto is not an incumbent in his seat, but he is currently on council.) In this race, the Telegraph offers one of the strongest endorsements I have seen in a while, and a rather stinging rebuke to Youmas and Hutto:

The present members of council, particularly Youmas, have been part of a team that has allowed our city finances to deteriorate. While no one on council wants to admit they should have paid more attention, the excuse of its being a part-time position doesn't hold water.
Moffett brings a new perspective to council. His resume is impressive: He's a Navy veteran who served on two Trident submarines. He has earned his MBA from Wesleyan College. He's participated in Leadership Macon and Leadership Georgia. He's worked with United Way, 100 Black Men and Crisis Line.

Congratulations to Keith and Elaine!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Since You Dropped By...

How about helping raise a few grassroots dollars for John Edwards this week? This is a campaign where your small change can literally translate to big change for this country. In honor of Elizabeth Edwards July 3rd birthday, we have a goal of raising $500.00 this week, and $5000.00 over the course of the campaign. Your contribution-no matter how big or small-would help us reach that goal. Maybe you've never given to a political campaign. Maybe you think your $5.00 doesn't matter, or that political giving is only for the high dollar donors. You'd be wrong. Your contribution, no matter how big or small, can make the difference.

If you need help deciding whether this is the candidate to back, take a look at this his performance against possible Republican nominees. And, remember, he's not first in the money race, but neither was John Kerry, the eventual nominee who loaned his campaign millions in December of 2003, just so he could compete in Iowa. And, compete he did. He won there and went on to win the nomination. Of course, Edwards is already doing well in that early critical state. So, what are you waiting for? Click away, and let's move that thermometer to $500 this week!

Last Chance: Macon Mayor: An Incredibly Non-Scientific Poll

Last Chance to Vote in this poll. I will take the top two and include them in a head-to-head match-up on Monday afternoon.

I have some thoughts about who may emerge as the winner of the Democratic Primary for Mayor of Macon, and I have been urged to make those thoughts public soon. Let's see what you think first. We'll do this poll first, and if no one tops 50 %, we'll poll the top two over the next few days. Yes, this is completely non-scientific. Completely. Have fun, though....

Unreasonable Politics

Fred Thompson, who has been teasing Republicans with the possibility of his candidacy, wowed a crowd of Florida Young Republicans yesterday with nothing other than his declaration that The New York Times and Hillary Clinton had made him their top target and that "the United States is the greatest nation." He rebuffed a reporter's questions about him lobbying for pro-choice groups with a reference to fat flies buzzing in the summer time? What? I don't know, but my instant mental image was of big, greenish, flies, buzzing around a pile of horse manure. Ick.

Fred Thompson, he of thin resume, must've been reading Dr. Drew Westen's The Political Brain. Westen, Director of Clinical Psychology at Emory, has conducted research on the human brain that points to the dominance of emotion over reason in political decision-making. (Click here for a really cool interactive model of how the brain works.) Thompson is expertly appealing to the "emotional brain,"and despite what rational thought dictates, I think that he is the greatest threat Democrats face in 2008.

Democrats need to learn from Westen. I'm looking forward to meeting him and hearing from him on Tuesday. We need to learn from our own experiences, too. We are far too quick to rely on reason, far too cognitively oriented. That works great for governance, not so great for winning elections. I refer you to the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 2004 as one of the worst examples of our ineptness on this front. The Republicans set design was brilliant. The stage was the Presidential seal, in the center of the floor, and seemed to be at the level of the people. The Democrat's visual did not hold a candle to this, and it was at the moment I saw it that I began to question whether Kerry could really win this thing. You'll recall that he was generally ahead in the polls at that point.

It's not that Democrats have never gotten it. Bill Clinton, the "man from Hope," who changes a room just by walking into it, clearly gets it. He connects with people, makes them believe he understands, and that he cares about them. FDR got it. He reached out to the nation with his promise of a "New Deal." He wasn't perfect, but he touched people where they were suffering and gave them hope. As I watch the candidates debate, I don't think we're there yet this year, but I do think that Edwards and Obama offer the best hope of getting us there.

There is a catch to this approach, one that Republicans tripped squarely over during the mid-term elections. Voters hate hypocrisy. What could've been a powerful symbol of Republican leadership-the "Mission Accomplished" banner on board the aircraft carrier-was premature and ultimately stuck like tar paper to Republican Party and their candidates becoming a symbol of the ineptness and arrogance of the current administration. Likewise, the President's recent commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence is a very important, emotional flash point for many Americans. This arrogant, lawless administration now has a poster child, and his name is Scooter-a name that evokes images of nannies, prep school and privilege.

I wrote some about the concept of "brain-stem voting" last year. I had not at that time read Westen's research. Buy his book and read it. Unless Democrats get our hands around Westen's research, and implement communication strategies that reflect the fact that emotion trumps reason in political discourse, in November of 2008, we will find ourselves wondering why we lost the election to a B-List actor.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Constitution: Approval Rating is at 63%

Quick, someone get a media advisor and a hair stylist for the Constitution. Those approval ratings are slipping.

Rasmussen Reports notes that 63% of Americans polled rate the Constitution as "good" or "excellent." You know what that means. 37% thought the document was "fair" or "poor." While 72% of self-identified conservatives gave the document a "good" or "excellent" rating, only 52% of liberals did the same. (Note to the liberals: give the Constitution a break. At least five of the members of the current Supreme Court are reading an abridged version of the document.)

Think She Made Her Point?

According to 13WMAZ, Lorena Bobbitt has nothing on Shondrell Lashey Ameri, a Houston County women who, after a full day of arguing with her husband, allegedly cornered him, announced that she intended to cut him and stabbed him in the groin with a four-foot samurai sword. The report says that husband left, over her objections, to get something to eat, and that the stabbing occurred when he returned. I think she made her point. She has been charged with aggravated assault, and Mr. Ameri has filed for divorce. No kidding.

God Weighs In

God is alive and well and, at least according to the candidate, has endorsed Rev. Victor Hunt in his effort to unseat Councilwomen Elaine Lucas. At least that's what his Georgia Informer ad indicates. There was no photograph available for the ad. Hunt, who had made headlines during the campaign because of his unpaid child support, can't possibly be right on this one. From what I've heard about God, she'd never endorse a parent who failed to pay their child support. Besides, I'm pretty sure that God got out of the endorsement business when she got burned by George W.

Under the headline, The Ultimate Endorsement, the Telegraph reports:

The July edition of the Georgia Informer, a locally produced newspaper, is flush with ads from candidates for Macon mayor and City Council.
Based on those ads, the Rev. Victor Hunt, he of the unpaid child-support bills and well-publicized criminal record, may have pulled off the greatest coup in the history of Macon politics in his bid to unseat Councilwoman Elaine Lucas.
On page 27 of the Informer, Hunt lists several dozen endorsements, but the headliner is pretty obvious. Hunt says he has been endorsed by God.
In fact, God is listed as his top endorsement because "he's the head of my life, and then he should be first on my endorsement list," Hunt said.
Last on the list? We're glad you asked. None other than "Etc."

Friday, July 6, 2007

Unbelievable: Barnes, Marshall, Self, Taylor in Ficklin Campaign Ad

Councilman Henry Ficklin, candidate for Mayor of Macon, is fond of saying that he is "unbought, unbossed and unbiased." After the ad I that I just saw in the Georgia Informer, he can add another "un" to that list: unbelievable.

Ficklin has a full page color ad in the paper, and on the right side includes the photographs of Congressman Jim Marshall, Governor Roy Barnes, Lt. Governor Mark Taylor, Mayor C. Jack Ellis, Senator Robert Brown, Councilwomen Filomena Mullis, School Board President Lynn Farmer, Judge Tripp Self and others. In small print above the photographs, Ficklin acknowledges that these are people he has endorsed in the past, and under the photographs says, "Sheriffs, Councilmen, Commissioners, Many, many others..."

The ad may be technically accurate, but it is patently misleading. I don't know whether he asked permission of the others, but I have spoken to Lynn Farmer, School Board President, who did not know that her picture was going to appear in this ad. Ficklin, who prides himself on attention to detail and knowledge of the city finances ought to be ashamed of himself. The people of Macon have spent the last eight years learning to mistrust City government. Most voters are sick and tired of the kind of slipping through the loopholes sleight of hand this ad represents. I am really sad to see Ficklin take this route. It looks like a desperate move. He does bring a lot of personal strength and experience to the race, but if he doesn't get that trust is first and foremost in the minds of voters, he's already lost this election.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Bibb District I Commission Seat: Who's in?

In Bibb County, we have a special election set for September to fill the County Commission Seat recently vacated by Sam Hart. I hear that current school board member Terry Tripp may toss her hat into the ring, along with Steve Bell, former Director of Development for The Georgia Children's Museum and media guru. Any others???

Hillary's $3000 Hair Stylist

News bulletin. In 2006, Hillary Clinton paid nearly $3000 to hair stylist Isabelle Goetz ($1500 in April of 2006 and $1000 in May, plus another $442 in expenses). Add to that the $3,000 Clinton paid to Hollywood makeup artist Barbara Lacy, and you'll see why how fast the Clinton campaign has burned through it's mega millions is a bigger story than what they've raised. John Edwards has gotten expensive haircuts, too, and today the AJC is devoting ink to a haircut he got in Atlanta in 2004. Now there's some heavy-duty reporting.

I personally think that we have more important things to discuss, like a President who has commuted the sentence of a man convicted of obstruction of justice, or the soldiers dying daily in Iraq while both our President and our Congress do nothing to end the war, or in Georgia, a young man who is sitting in prison for ten years for having consensual oral sex, but, for those of you who think that what a candidate pays for a haircut is really much more important than a substantive discussion of the issues, here's the breaking news: None of the folks running for President are paupers. The Clinton's have a net worth of about 50 million dollars. Most, if not all, of the viable candidates are millionaires, but the only one who is speaking consistently about poverty and what we need to do help, for instance, the one in five children in Georgia who live in poverty is John Edwards.

That Hillary Clinton described the expense of her hair stylist and make-up artist as "media production expense" really gets at the core issue. We have devolved into a nation of drones who watch while Paris Hilton is released from jail, noting what outfit she was wearing but failing to notice that she spent more time in jail than Scooter Libby. The Republicans are salivating at the opportunity to choose Fred Thompson, you know, the nice D.A. from Law and Order, the B-list actor with the thin resume' who is a walking subliminal cue that will make the music from the show go "Da Dum" in voters minds as they check off his name on the ballot. After all, who's going to protect us better than the nice D.A.? This is what we've become.

Look, I could not care less what Hillary and John spend on hair cuts and stylists. The fact is this is a media-driven race, and these are rich people. It's not Edwards' (or Clinton's) personal cash that will help end poverty- it is their ability as President to impact policy. But, hey, the GOP is counting on us to keep feeding the "Reality-TV, Don't-Make-Me-Think" media machine. Wouldn't want to disappoint, would we?

This is cross-posted at Georgia Votes Edwards

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Play in Your Own Sandbox

Rumor has it that some Macon Republicans are engaged in a coordinated effort to encourage Republicans to vote in the Democratic Primary for the upcoming municipal elections. According Peach Pundit, former state senator, Susan Cable has sent a letter to Republicans urging them to vote in the Democratic primary and admonishing them to remember what happened the last time they failed to do just that. (Jack Ellis narrowly defeated Buck Melton.)

I find this interesting on a number of levels. First of all, there is a contested mayor's race on the Republican side of the ballot. It's true that provided the Democrats fail to choose an axe murderer or a child molester, the Republican does not have a snowball's chance in hell of winning in November, but, still, their primary race is contested. I've heard (again, this is rumor) that the Republican Party is not pleased with Ms. Cable's letter. I have some more basic questions about it:

1) How many people did it go to?

2) Who paid for it?

3) And, was there a "paid for by" line on the letter?

4) If it was broadly distributed, then who provided/paid for access to the Voter File.

And, last but not least...

5) Is one of the Democratic candidates behind this effort?

I'm not sure, but, if the letter were broadly distributed, then I think that it just might fall under the category of attempting to influence an election and trigger certain reporting requirements. Someone out there please correct me if I am wrong.

You know, I think that the open primary system we have in Georgia is a mistake. Unlike some other states, in Georgia, when someone registers to vote, they do not have to affiliate with a political party, and when they go to vote in a primary election, they may vote in either, but not both, the Democratic or Republican Primary. Why is that a problem? Because, the purpose of the primary is for the political party to choose the candidate who will best represent the values and platform of that Party to compete against the candidate of the other party in the general election. Current demographics in the City indicate that a Republican will not be viable in a citywide election. Similarly, in my neck of the woods, a Democrat is unlikely to be successful as a House or Senate candidate. Those are the breaks.

It's one thing for an individual to make the choice to crossover and vote in the other party's primary, but an organized effort on the part of one political party to impact the results of the other party's primary just doesn't seem like fair play to me. And, if Erick's information is correct, then I'd like to know who's funding the effort. I'm pretty sure that if it became known in the City that one of the Democratic Candidates funded, encouraged or endorsed the effort, then he or she would pay a price among acutal Democratic voters.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor

With Independence Day approaching and the headline "Scooter Skates" marking the Bush administration's latest mocking of justice, I am compelled to ask, what are we willing to sacrifice to be certain that this group of despots does not remain in charge of the executive branch of our government? Consider these, not quite as often repeated words, from the Declaration of Independence:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Who is Veronica Brinson?

If she is able to gather the needed signatures, Veronica Brinson will enter Macon's mayoral race as an Independent. I've been wondering who was pushing this thirty-something attorney to do this, but those who know her say that there may be no one at all. I did notice her name in an old Telegraph story about Mayor Ellis reorganizing Municipal Court. She was apparently placed on the bench for "environmental" court when another judge was reassigned. That's interesting. It makes it appear that, at least at some point, she found favor with Mayor Ellis. Is he behind her run? I doubt it.

Let's face it, it takes some degree of self confidence to run for office, but running for Mayor, first time out, takes a significant ego. At this point, no one I've talk to seems shocked that she took this step, and no one seems particularly pleased. In the final analysis, I doubt very much that she will be much of a factor in the November election. Here's why.

Ms. Brinson is an attorney and, until recently, a Municipal Court judge. She is a graduate of Leadership Macon and one of Georgia Trend's 2005 "Forty Under Forty." She has a compelling personal story, finishing college and graduating from law school despite becoming a mother as a teenager. That's all well and good, but she has never before served in or run for elected office. There will be a whole lot of questions about what, exactly, qualifies her to be Mayor.