Thursday, January 31, 2008

Maconite Honored With Murphy Lifetime Achievement Award

Last night, Joni Woolf, who lived in Macon for more than forty years, received a Speaker Thomas Murphy Lifetime Achievement Award from the Democratic Party of Georgia. This was the first year the award named for Mr. Speaker was given, and one Georgia Democrat from each congressional district was chosen for this honor. Joni Woolf was selected because of her groundbreaking work both in politics and in the community. Let me just say that one day, I aspire to have a resume' like hers. She has been involved in founding and supporting organization after organization that lift people up-most often women and minorities.

The award was, of course public, but another drama played out behind the scenes on Tuesday. The Democratic Party of Georgia is not the only organization that recognized her talents. On Tuesday, the Edwards Campaign selected Joni Woolf to introduce the Senator at the JJ Dinner. Of course, that was when Edwards was still coming to JJ and still in the race for President. She wrote a powerful introduction that captures, better than I can, why so many of us spent the last year doing all we could to to help John and Elizabeth Edwards. Of course, this speech was never given, and I'm sad about that, but it says so much about her, and so much about him, I asked that she allow me to publish it here:

The first time I ever heard John Edwards speak—several years ago in Macon—he talked about growing up poor, and the hardships that his family endured as they struggled to put bread on the table, pay the rent, clothe the children. And I thought, “He’s one of us. He has been poor, and he knows how that feels to a child.” Like John, I grew up poor in rural South Georgia, where there was never quite enough of anything. But we were rich in promise: our parents assured us that life would be better for us, and they worked night and day to be sure that happened.

And it did. Their struggles, their sacrifices, their long days of sweat—and sometimes tears—guaranteed my generation a better life. And so we assumed, as our lives got slowly better, that OUR children would enjoy the prosperity that the United States was experiencing. It has not happened. Ever since the Reagan years, when greed became something to be proud of, the middle class has been in decline. My children—and YOURS—are struggling much as my parents’ generation did, just to keep food on the table. They are desperate for something, SOMEONE, to inspire hope in the future—not just their own—but the future of our beloved country which is becoming a country of the very rich, with a rapidly declining middle class—a country without a moral compass, without a president who has the integrity to face the harsh realities of our time, and to tell the truth.

Last fall, I took my granddaughter to see John Edwards when he spoke at Georgia Southwestern University in Americus. She came away believing that here was a candidate who cared about her and her dreams for the future, a candidate who had been where she and many of her friends are, a candidate who offers a better way…a way that promises attention will be paid to the millions of Americans who are hanging on by fragile threads, Americans who have been betrayed by a system that increasingly rewards the greedy. She will vote for the first time this November. And she will vote for the candidate who must be our party’s nominee--John Edwards--because she has studied his platform, and knows he is the candidate who has stayed focused on the issues, and whose vision for a better America will be fulfilled in our time.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am deeply honored to present the next President of our beloved country—JOHN EDWARDS!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Officially Undecided

That's me. I am officially an undecided democratic primary voter. I will decide before Tuesday. For now, I just want to say this: John and Elizabeth Edwards are two of the finest, most genuine human beings I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Had they not chosen to spend precious time in this race, critical issues, like poverty, that impact the least and the last would never have made their way to the center of the debate. We're better for it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

U.S. Dept. of Labor: Puttin' on the Ritz

Thank God we have fiscal conservatives running the federal government-otherwise the U.S. Department of Labor would've been meeting today at the W Hotel in Atlanta, or perhaps in Fiji, instead at the downtown Ritz. I was at the hotel with friends for lunch-on my own dime, not yours, let me point out-when we noticed that about eighty DOL employees were comfortably situated in the Palace Ballroom at the Ritz. Judging from the packets remaining on the registration table, participants came from other states, like North Carolina, and the schedule showed they would be there through 5 pm. Lunch, possibly breakfast, snacks (I saw lovely banana bread on the table) and some lodging were surely involved. Perhaps this is part of the GOP plan to stimulate the economy because they have to be spending a nice chunk of change.

Seriously, I'm not easily shocked, but this is ridiculous, and emblematic of the fat and waste in the federal government. At least now we know why we can't expand SCHIP. Outrageous.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Shipp Said It

Others have thought it, but Shipp said it. And you can read it here.

Barack Will NOT Rock Atlanta on Wednesday

I have to confess to the sin of envy. I have been envious of the Obama Machine. There. I said it. They have a great ground game and great political instincts. They have made few mistakes, BUT today, I'm feeling a little less envious. Obama will miss the JJ Dinner, leaving the stage to Clinton and Edwards. According to my friends over at Political Insider, Obama's dis of the JJ indicates that he believes he has Georgia locked up. He might be right, but Georgia voters are a fickle lot and surely don't like to feel taken for granted.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Brown: Edwards Knows, "Grits is Groceries"

"I treat Georgia as a place I know," said Presidential hopeful John Edwards to a crowd of more than four hundred in rural Dublin, Georgia, "not a place to fly over on your way from New York City to Miami." The crowd roared. That theme-"I am one of you. I get it. I understand because I've lived it"-resonated with the after-church crowd this afternoon. My favorite line of the day didn't come from Sen. Edwards, though, it came from Sen. Robert Brown of Macon who said, "It's time we had a President who doesn't think 'ya'll' is a foreign language and knows grits is groceries."

The Telegraph, has excellent coverage of today's visit, including video. The article is here. Before coming to the Farmer's Market, Edwards stopped by The Blue Plate, a popular restaurant in Dublin, where hundreds had gathered to enjoy the fried chicken, fresh greens and field peas. (The chicken is excellent, and I hear the squash casserole is the very best-lots of butter.) Here's that video, and here is the video of Edwards at the Farmers Market. Below, you will find a few of the pictures I took today:







John Edwards: Live From Dublin

John Edwards came directly from South Carolina to Dublin, Georgia where several hundred people are gathered at the Farmers Market. The crowd is unexpectedly large-the parking lot is full and the crowd is spilling from the Market out onto the lawn, enjoying the warm Georgia sunshine.

Edwards is escorted today by the Democratic leader of the Georgia house, Dubose Porter and the Democratic leader of the Georgia senate, Robert Brown. Both Brown and Porter have endorsed Sen. Edwards.

After the prayer, Porter introduced Jackie Curtis who is now singing, "Georgia on My Mind." Frankly, I can't imagine an event more thoroughly Georgian. Porter said that there is no candidate who understands Georgia better than John Edwards.

Now, Senator Brown is introducing Edwards. "John Edwards was one of the first to come forward with a program for rural America," said Brown. "I like the fact that John Edwards is not a quitter.....I like the fact that we have a presidential candidate who knows 'ya'll' is not a foreign language and that grits is groceries," said Brown. And, with that Edwards took the stage.

"I'm not about tearing any politician down-I'm about building you up. Nobody has to give me a briefing for me to understand what's happening here-I've lived it. Georgia is not a place I fly over between NYC and Miami."

"We need to bring down health care cost. Health care should not be a privilege for the privileged-it ought to be a right for every American."

Now, he's talking about protecting the 2nd Amendment, that he gets it.

"What about our schools? We've got that mess called "No child left behind. I can tell you this no child has ever learned anything by filling in one of those bubbles on a standardized test."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

South Carolina Snapshot

My sister who lives in the upstate of SC called this morning and said that the turn out, especially among African-American voters appeared to be very heavy. She's predicted a double-digit win for Obama and historic turnout levels. By the time she went to vote this afternoon, there were only three people at that polling place. So, now she's re-thinking. I guess we'll all just have to wait for the results. I suspect folks came out to vote early in the day so they could have their afternoons free for other things. It's interesting-and this makes you want to throw the demographic stereotyping out the window. She has two grown daughters., both college graduates. The single one (parent) voted for Edwards, and the married one (teacher) voted for Clinton. That niece's husband had not voted and, though a democrat, "liked McCain." My sister voted for Edwards, but her husband voted for Obama because, "he didn't want Clinton to win." That's a pretty interesting split in one democratic family.

Guess What's Coming to Americus?

The bad news: Despite the efforts of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, tornado-devastated Sumter Regional Hospital did not win the Siemen's online contest for a brand new $800,000.00 MRI machine.

The good news: The company is going to give them one anyway. Moved by the video footage showing what remained of the hospital after mother nature had her way, Siemen's will be packing up one of those shiny new machines and shipping it to Georgia just as soon as the new hospital is ready in 2010.

Now, that's good corporate citizenship, due in no small part, I suspect, to the eloquent advocacy of Mrs. Carter.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Edwards in Middle Georgia: The Scoop

As I posted last night, Sen. John Edwards will be in Dublin on Sunday. At one o'clock, Sen. Edwards will speak at the downtown Farmer's Market in Dublin. He will be joined by his many Middle Georgia supporters, including the Democratic leaders of the Georgia House and Senate, Rep. Dubose Porter of Dublin and Sen. Robert Brown of Macon. The event is open to the public.

We are very excited that Sen. Edwards is returning to Middle Georgia, but no one should be surprised. Since the very beginning of this campaign, both he and Elizabeth have prioritized rural America, both in terms of policy and presence. Until very recently, with the exception of Sen. Edwards, if any of the Presidential candidates has been asked to draw a map of Georgia, there was a better than even chance that I-20 would've been the southern-most boundary. That's never been the perspective of the Edwards' campaign. Over the course of the last year, the Edwards' have visited Macon several times. They have been to our homes and our universities. Together, he and Elizabeth have spent more time outside metro-Atlanta than all of the other candidates combined, and to date, he is the only Democratic candidate to visit outside metro-Atlanta. (I understand that Obama will be here for the first time on Sunday, but the event is closed to the public: press and parishioners only.)

By the way, Georgians claim John Edwards as a favorite son. Edwards was raised in small towns in South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina. As a child, Edwards lived in Thompson, Georgia. He "gets" the needs of rural America because he lived it. This is where his heart is. He is one of us, sharing both our experiences and our values. We're glad he's coming home to us on Sunday.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Edwards to Visit Dublin on Sunday

13 WMAZ reports that Sen. John Edwards will visit Dublin, Georgia this Sunday. Dublin is the home of Edwards endorser, Rep. Dubose Porter, the Democratic leader of the Georgia House. Details about the visit (time, place etc.) are forthcoming.

Edwards Wants You to Call Johnny and Saxby

I got a unique piece of email for the Edwards campaign today-unique because there was no request for money (that came earlier this morning). In this email, Edwards asks that we call call Isakson and Chambliss to tell them not to vote to grant retroactive immunity for war crimes to giant telecom companies who have assisted the administration in illegally eavesdropping on Americans. Edwards is right-this retroactive immunity is wrong and Senate Democrats should stand strong and, if necessary, join Sen. Dodd in his filibuster. This goes beyond politics, right to the heart of the constitution. I know it's become a slogan, but, serious, who's county is this? Ours? Or is it bought and paid for by huge corporations? Call your senators. Here's the letter:

When it comes to protecting the rule of law, words are not enough. We need action. It's wrong for your government to spy on you. That's why I'm asking you to join me today in calling on Senate Democrats to filibuster revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that would give "retroactive immunity" to the giant telecom companies for their role in aiding George W. Bush's illegal eavesdropping on American citizens.The Senate is debating this issue right now -- which is why we must act right now. You can call your Senators here:

Saxby Chambliss, (R): (202) 224-3521

Johnny Isakson, (R): (202) 224-3643

Granting retroactive immunity is wrong. It will let corporate law-breakers off the hook. It will hamstring efforts to learn the truth about Bush's illegal spying program. And it will flip on its head a core principle that has guided our nation since our founding: the belief that no one, no matter how well connected or what office they hold, is above the law.But in Washington today, the telecom lobbyists have launched a full-court press for retroactive immunity. George Bush and Dick Cheney are doing everything in their power to ensure it passes. And too many Senate Democrats are ready to give the lobbyists and the Bush administration exactly what they want. Please join me in calling on every Senate Democrat to do everything in their power -- including joining Senator Dodd's efforts to filibuster this legislation -- to stop retroactive immunity and stand up for the rule of law. The Constitution should not be for sale at any price.Thank you for taking action.

John Edwards

January 24, 2008

Tidbits and Telephones

From the ground in SC, my SC sister says:

* She got a robocall yesterday from someone who said that he was a former FBI agent who then spent about three minutes detailing all the things the Clintons had ever done wrong. She said, "I don't usually listen to those things, but the FBI agent calling caught my attention." I asked, and she said there was no id on the call about who paid for it or approved it. She didn't care for the mudslinging, but I guess the point here is that she listened to all of a long call by robocall standards. ("Robocall standards." Is that an oxymoron?)

* That SC dems are "not happy" that Clinton seems to have "abandoned" the state. She thinks the early exit will hurt her on Saturday. How much? Who knows.

* She also says that she has a number of African-American friends who once were leaning toward Clinton who are now supporting Obama in the wake of the recent exchanges between the campaigns.

* She says that the Clinton campaign is running a radio ad there that provides a partial quote about what Obama said about Republicans being the party of ideas for the last fifteen years, and then lists programs that Obama has never supported or approved of. She finds it misleading.

* She says the item about Obama "pressing the wrong button" when voting in Illinois is getting some traction there. No surprise-buttons, President-there's an easy just under the surface connect to the previous allegations about lack of foreign policy experience.

And in Georgia:

* A Democratic friend who supports Edwards got a call yesterday asking for support the Clinton. When the friend declined, the caller asked if the friend was still a democrat. Probably an ID call, but also probably not quite the best phrasing. Friend was offended.

* Good for Baker for investigating the Lewis robocall. Speaking of a Roverian strategy-a republican consulting firm doing a call slamming Lewis for supporting Clinton. He hit, Lewis, Clinton and Obama (because some could've thought the call came from him) all at the same time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No, I Won't Supply Office Space for Hillary Clinton

Okay, anyone who can read and has a computer knows that I have spent much of the last year volunteering for John Edwards. I have raised money. I have knocked on doors. I went to freakin' freezing Iowa for God's sake. So, why have I today for the second time in two weeks gotten a call from the Clinton campaign asking if I would provide office space for their Macon operation? Today, the lady-who was perfectly nice-said she'd called Lauren Benedict before she called me. I take it that didn't work out, probably because I clearly remember Lauren also trudging through that frozen Iowa tundra. Isn't this one of the 100 million dollar campaigns? I know Hillary was in New York for a fundraiser last night. Can they not use some of that change to RENT space? Perhaps she can call Rupert for a loan.

As long as John Edwards chooses to stay in this race, I've got his back in Macon. So, thanks but no thanks, I can't supply office space for his OPPONENT.

Kerry Accuses Clinton Team of "Swiftboating" Obama

You remember John Kerry, right? Okay, since he never graced Georgia after the 2004 primary, maybe you don't. I'm thinking that Obama might want to ask Kerry to stop helping quite so much. You see, as surrogates go, he's no match for Bill Clinton. And, let me be perfectly clear-I'm an Edwards girl and have not made a choice between the other two, but today, I got this email from John Kerry that says that Obama is the victim of "Swiftboat" style anonymous attacks. He never mentions the Clintons by name, but he says, "We won't let them steal this election with lies and distortions." And, "We must be determined to never again lose any election to a lie." That comes awfully close to labeling Hillary Clinton as a "lie." Or maybe he was talking about Edwards. Okay, I don't think so.

Here's Kerry's and Obama's problem: the Clintons are MASTERS at these tactics. The only organization more Roverian than Karl himself is the Clinton machine. Kerry's direct approach won't work. It is as if the Clintons read The Political Brain and didn't just note the parts about how to best communicate your own message but also digested and implements the parts about how to tear your opponent to shreds with a single image or a single phrase in a single ad-like the now infamous "Call me, Harold" ad. Obama needs a more sophisticated approach-or he needs to remain above the fray. Else, he risks getting blown out of the water by a sophisticated, multi-level attack that is so precise and so effective that you don't realize you've been cut until you see your blood on the floor-and none on their hands. Here's the letter:

From: John Kerry [] Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 7:51 PM
Subject: Swiftboating

I support Barack Obama because he doesn't seek to perfect the politics of Swiftboating -- he seeks to end it.
This is personal for me, and for a whole lot of Americans who lived through the 2004 election.
As a veteran, it disgusts me that the Swift Boats we loved while we were in uniform on the Mekong Delta have been rendered, in Karl Rove's twisted politics, an ugly verb meaning to lie about someone's character just to win an election. But as someone who cares about winning this election and changing the country I love, I know it's not enough to complain about a past we can't change when our challenge is to win the future -- which is why we must stop the Swiftboating, stop the push-polling, stop the front groups, and stop the email chain smears.
The truth matters, but how you fight the lies matters even more. We must be determined never again to lose any election to a lie.
This year, the attacks are already starting. Some of you may have heard about the disgusting lies about Barack Obama that are being circulated by email. These attacks smear Barack's Christian faith and deep patriotism, and they distort his record of more than two decades of public service. They are nothing short of "Swiftboat" style anonymous attacks.
These are the same tactics the right has used again and again, and as we've learned, these attacks, no matter how bogus, can spread and take root if they go unchecked.
But not this time -- we're fighting back.
And when I say "we," I mean that literally. I know Barack is committed to fighting every smear every time. He'll fight hard and stand up for the truth. But he can't do it alone.
We need you to email the truth to your address books. Print it out and post it at work. Talk to your neighbors. Call your local radio station. Write a letter to the editor. If lies can be spread virally, let's prove to the cynics that the truth can be every bit as persuasive as it is powerful.
The Obama campaign has created a place where you can find the truth you'll need to push back on these smears and a way to spread the truth to all of your address book.
Take action here:
So when your inbox fills up with trash and the emails of smear and fear, find the facts, and help defeat the lies.
Barack Obama is committed to bringing our country together to meet the challenges we face, but he knows that power gives up nothing without a struggle -- and to win the chance to change America, we must first defeat the hateful tactics that have been used to tear us apart for too long.
With your help, we can turn the page on an era of small, divisive politics -- but only if next time you hear these attacks on Barack, you take action immediately:
The fight is just heating up -- we won't let them steal this election with lies and distortions.
Thank you,

This is Going to Read Like One of Those Sappy AT&T Commercials...

So, I have a new Blackberry Curve, and I've been an AT&T customer since 100 years ago. I lost the case for the brand new phone. See, the case is important because this is a smart phone, and it knows when it's in its case. Besides, I was inadvertently dialing places like Australia. So, after lunch today, I went to the AT&T store on Northside Drive to buy a new case. Turns out, they didn't have any of the cases like the one that came with the phone. And, then, one of those remarkable little things that sort of restores your faith in human nature happened-the sales person, who apparently also has a Curve, gave me his case. "No," I said, "you don't have to do that." "Sure," he said, "I don't ever use it." We went back and forth like that for a minute before he insisted and I walked out of the store with his case. I swear to God I was not being a difficult whiny customer-he just did it.

And, so, many thanks Bret Standfield, AT&T sales consultant extraordinaire. You deserve a promotion-and, I've told your boss.

Teilhet Stands Up to Predatory Lenders

Today, Rep. Rob Teilhet (D-Smyrna) introduced legislation requiring full disclosure from marketers of high interest "refund anticipation" loans. Teilhet says, "For too long, Georgia and other states have looked the other way as predatory lenders have deceived taxpayers into loans soaked with extravagant fees and triple digit interest rates."

This legislation is timely and dead on the money. Consumer organizations have found that the biggest market for these loans is the working poor, 56% (seven million families) of whom are eligible for Earned Income Tax Credit enabling them to receive a refund whether or not they have paid any income tax. The NCLC and the Consumer Federation of America have released their 2006 report on these loans. Through 2004, 12.38 million taxpayers got refund loans during tax season. These consumers paid almost $1.24 billion in loan fees, and another $360 million in administrative, electronic filing and application fees.

Taxpayers who seek these loans are often living hand-to-mouth, just trying to keep the wolf away from the door. They feel trapped and desperate, forced to make difficult choices between things like rent and heat in the winter. They often face challenges with language, education and literacy that makes tax forms hard to manage and fine print on loan documents impossible. Often, they don't need their money now-they needed it yesterday or last month. This is a vulnerable population.

While many are eligible to receive EITC, the paperwork to receive the EITC is complicated making it more likely that the consumer will have to hire a tax preparer. Many are unaware of free community services that will assist them with tax preparation, and many do not have bank accounts. Conveniently, a refund anticipation loan creates a one-time-use bank account for the refund, and the lender takes his portion before sending the balance to the consumer.

Like payday lending, this scheme is predatory and targets a vulnerable population that can ill afford the fees and interest rates that often sore to over 300%. Teilhet is right on target with this legislation-if we're going to allow these people to do business in Georgia-at the very least they ought to have to jump through some hoops to make sure consumers know what they're buying-and what it 's going to cost them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Health Care Open Thread

Vic asked for it, so here it is. I invite you to share your very own health/care/insurance nightmares. Mine is pretty simple. There isn't a single child and adolescent psych inpatient bed in Bibb County. Not one. I don't need them often, for my patients, but when I do-the child is really, really in crisis. I hate telling the family to head to Atlanta.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"My Father Would Be Proud"

After the rally at IBEW in Atlanta on Saturday, John Edwards went to a private meeting with Martin L. King, III. Today, the campaign released a letter from King (posted below). I will be honest to say that I have wondered about the wisdom of Sen. Edwards staying the course in this race. I've tried to figure out his strategy, tried to figure out what path he sees to the nomination, but tonight, as I listened to the debate, and then, as I read this letter, it is now clear to me that Edwards continued presence in this race is not about "strategy." It's about justice. I believe that there would have been little discussion about poverty in this race had he not voiced it. As he said tonight, campaigning about poverty doesn't necessarily win you votes-but it's the right thing to do. Doing what's right, no matter the cost, is what transformational leadership is all about.

January 20, 2008

The Honorable John E. Edwards
410 Market Street
Suite 400
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Dear Senator Edwards:
It was good meeting with you yesterday and discussing my father’s legacy. On the day when the nation will honor my father, I wanted to follow up with a personal note.
There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of back and forth in the political arena over my father’s legacy. It is a commentary on the breadth and depth of his impact that so many people want to claim his legacy. I am concerned that we do not blur the lines and obscure the truth about what he stood for: speaking up for justice for those who have no voice.
I appreciate that on the major issues of health care, the environment, and the economy, you have framed the issues for what they are - a struggle for justice. And, you have almost single-handedly made poverty an issue in this election.
You know as well as anyone that the 37 million people living in poverty have no voice in our system. They don’t have lobbyists in Washington and they don’t get to go to lunch with members of Congress. Speaking up for them is not politically convenient. But, it is the right thing to do.
I am disturbed by how little attention the topic of economic justice has received during this campaign. I want to challenge all candidates to follow your lead, and speak up loudly and forcefully on the issue of economic justice in America.
From our conversation yesterday, I know this is personal for you. I know you know what it means to come from nothing. I know you know what it means to get the opportunities you need to build a better life. And, I know you know that injustice is alive and well in America, because millions of people will never get the same opportunities you had.
I believe that now, more than ever, we need a leader who wakes up every morning with the knowledge of that injustice in the forefront of their minds, and who knows that when we commit ourselves to a cause as a nation, we can make major strides in our own lifetimes. My father was not driven by an illusory vision of a perfect society. He was driven by the certain knowledge that when people of good faith and strong principles commit to making things better, we can change hearts, we can change minds, and we can change lives.
So, I urge you: keep going. Ignore the pundits, who think this is a horserace, not a fight for justice. My dad was a fighter. As a friend and a believer in my father’s words that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, I say to you: keep going. Keep fighting. My father would be proud.

Martin L. King, III

Sunday, January 20, 2008

No, Actually, I'm Not Going

It's great that President Clinton is coming to Macon tomorrow. Folks have been calling this afternoon asking about whether I am going. I can't go because have a previous commitment-that's it, nothing more. I'm sure that he will be charming, smart and charismatic as usual. His visit does beg a question. During this cycle, John Edwards has been to Macon and to Americus, and Elizabeth Edwards has been here twice and has also been to Savannah. With February 5th fast approaching, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama have been to the mid-state.

Reckon they'll come? Now, that's a good question for Bill...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Devastating Loss

How do you go on after a loss like the one we suffered today? No one predicted this outcome. Of course, these things are tough to predict, but we were favored, it was our turf, and we lost. We should probably just drop out of the contest.

Of course, Jon Flack is probably dancing in the streets. Maryland (Maryland) beat my Tar Heels 82-80 today while Kansas remains undefeated-until the find themselves on the court with the Heels, of course.

Edwards Rocks Atlanta

Despite the snow, anenthuiastic crowd of about 450 people packed the IBEW union hall to hear from Sen. John Edwards.

Edwards was introduced by Gov. Roy Barnes who emphasized that in order to make change, you actually have to get elected and said, "I'm tired of having Democrats on the ballot I have to apologize for." Edwards, he said is the candidate who can compete and win in the South. "It is time," said Barnes, "to elect a president who talks like we do."

Senator Edwards carried the message of hope for the Middle Class. He said, "One candidate thinks we need a CEO for president. The other thinks we need a great speech writer. I think we need a fighter-someone who will fight for you. I will be that president."

The crowd was enthuiastic, and some are still here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Nothing Against Atlanta, But...

Georgia does not stop just south of the I-20 perimeter, but ever since Sonny Perdue moved out to West Paces Ferry, he seems to have forgotten where he's from. Well, except for that little fishing project. During his State of the State speech this week, Governor Perdue said:

“The triumphant drumbeat of our progress proclaims a new anthem and a new era for Georgia. Not just as the capital of the New South, not just another great American city – but an international leader – an economic . . . cultural . . . technological capital,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “We Georgians are not content to stand on the achievements of the past –
no, we are eager to create a better future for our children, and our children’s

It's Atlanta, and the Capitol building in particular, as it was constructed in post-reconstruction Georgia, that bears the monitor, "Capitol of the New South." Too often growth, development and prosperity in Atlanta and it's suburbs and exurbs has happened at the expense of rural Georgia. Unchecked and unmanaged growth has contributed to the drought crisis. Rural schools have drawn the short straw while Governor Perdue funds his sound-bite-ready pet projects at the expense of the most basic needs of these school systems. (Parental Recruiters? Are you kidding me? Is that even correct grammar? I think that "Parental" is an adjective modifying recruiters, making the recruiters the ones who are parental. I guess that's about right.) We have a health care-access crisis everywhere, but try being indigent and uninsured in rural Georgia where there are fewer programs to stand in the gap.

My point? Rural Georgia has a lot to offer and the ability to grow a competitive workforce-if the General Assembly would stop starving our schools. When we talk about the Capitol of the New South, we need to think out the the "Atlanta" box.

I wish I lived in the Georgia Sonny Perdue says exists.

John Edwards. Atlanta. Be There.

John Edwards is headed our way tomorrow, and he just might be bringing a little Iowa weather along with him. Never fear-a little weather never stopped Georgia Democrats! Here's the scoop:

Elizabeth Kanning invites all of you to join with other Edwards supporters at the IBEW building in Atlanta at 11 AM for a "giant poster-making party." Sounds like lots of fun! Then, stick around for the "main event" where you will first hear from a few of our Democratic leaders, and then, at 2:30 pm, from Sen. John Edwards.

It is the place to be in Atlanta tomorrow! See you at IBEW, 501 Pulliam Street, SW in Atlanta.

Okay, That Wasn't Quite True

The other day, I posted that I thought the Democratic response to the State of the State was the first time-maybe the first time ever-we'd done such a thing. As Tom Crawford was good enough to point out today, that's not exactly accurate. During Perdue's first term, we provided a response. Lt. Gov. Taylor did one, Secretary Cox did another, and there may have even been another.

Maybe it would've been more accurate to say that this is the first time lately. In any case, I'm glad we're saying something.

Thanks, Tom.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And You Thought Democrats Didn't Stand for Anything...

Georgia Democrats are not accustomed to being the minority party. We held the reigns on state government for years, and when we dropped them (more on that later), we stumbled around for a while trying to figure out what the minority can effectively do. Well, today, for the first time-I think first time ever-Georgia Democrats provided a minority response to the State of the State address. Rep. Kathy Ashe was the spokesperson, but her remarks reflect the values of Democrats all across the state. She did an outstanding job for all of us! Below is a portion of Rep. Ashe's speech.

I've had the honor to serve in the Georgia General Assembly since 1991. During that time, I've come to know many men and women who exemplified the ideal of citizen legislators. One of those statesmen is no longer with us. Today, we continue to mourn the passing of Speaker Tom Murphy, a true Georgia leader. Mr. Speaker, you are missed in the General Assembly, and throughout this state. Speaker Murphy understood, better than most, the role of government. He knew that the true success of a state should not be measured at the top of the pyramid, but at its base. He understood the value of investing today for later reward. He knew that government must plan today for the problems of tomorrow, and he practiced what he preached.

Eight years into the 21st Century, five years after the Governor promised us a "New Georgia," our state continues to face the stagnant challenges of yesterday. Despite frequent promises of action from the Governor and his party, Georgia continues on a perilous course.

Our public schools, where we sow the seeds of Georgia's future, continue to struggle. More than one in six Georgians does not have affordable health care - including almost 300,000 children. We continue to feel the burden of 1.3 billion dollars in education cuts forced on your local governments by this administration. And every night in Georgia - all over Georgia - too many of our children go to bed hungry and without hope for a better future.

As Democrats, we believe we can take Georgia in a new direction, by simply planning ahead, working together, and believing in our shared values and common wisdom. On behalf of my Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate, I call on Governor Perdue and the Republican members of both chambers: Let us reason and work together to solve Georgia's problems. Let no good idea wither on the vine and dry up, simply because it came from the other party. Let us prepare today, and avoid crisis tomorrow.

What will be the next crisis to face Georgia? Will our schools continue to wallow in mediocrity? Will the 1.7 million medically uninsured Georgians become 2 million, and then 3 million? Will factories continue to close, and farms continue to fail? Or will we work together, to create a Georgia that we can all believe in again?
I'm pleased to announce the first piece of major legislation Democrats will introduce in this session. We will address Georgia's concerns with education and property

Next week, Democrats in the House and Senate will introduce a new plan for tax relief - not a hastily conceived scheme that changes with the political winds, but a responsible approach that helps those who need it the most – Georgia's families.

Our plan restores much-needed funding to our public schools, and eases the strain on local governments, giving them the freedom to do what their constituents demand, keep our obligations to our children, and reduce property taxes. Most importantly, it gives public schools what they need to produce the next generation of Georgians, brighter and better-prepared than any generation in our state's history.

We will keep the promise made to students and parents over twenty years ago - we will fund the Quality Basic Education Act, and we will create the some of the best
schools in the nation. Ideas like this do not come from us, the Democratic legislators, but from what we hear from our constituents every day in our schools, our churches, and our places of work. Our ideas for a better Georgia come from all of us, from our shared values, and from what we all believe. Once again, the Governor has said one thing and done another on education. Despite his rhetoric and rosy promises, Governor Perdue is introducing $141 million dollars in cuts to education this year. And as a result, our schools will be underfunded by one and a half billion dollars.

Democrats believe we should finally make good on our promise to our children to fully fund their schools; and emphasizing reading, math, science, discipline, character, and above all, preparation for a 21st century global economy.

Democrats believe that we should reduce class sizes and make Georgia's teachers the envy of America. We believe that every student deserves a teacher who has time to
teach, and a well-equipped classroom, not an overcrowded portable trailer.

Our children are our guarantee that Georgia will remain competitive economically, and that we will leave our state better off than we found it. We believe that if you work hard, and play by the rules, you shouldn't have to worry about going bankrupt when your health is on the line. We believe that every family deserves a family doctor, and that it is our moral obligation to make sure that every child in this state is free from preventable illness and pain.

We can reform our health care system, and make sure that every hardworking Georgian, and especially every child, has access to affordable health care.
We believe that by rebuilding our aging infrastructure, from crumbling roads to bridges on the brink of danger, we ensure that Georgia continues to be the economic engine that drives the South.

We can protect our economic future by making Georgia a place where responsible business owners want to do business, and by partnering with business to foster enterprise and innovation that brings jobs to Georgia, and helping small businesses down the path to prosperity.

We believe that we can cut the gridlock by cutting through the red tape at the Department of Transportation, and by looking to bold new ideas like commuter rail and other mass transit solutions to get Georgians home to their families quicker.
We can ask the tough questions about transportation in Georgia. How can our Department of Transportation lose 5 billion dollars of our money and not even know how many projects are underway? Why are Georgians spending more time in traffic and less time with their families?

We can mitigate today's water crisis and, more importantly, prepare for tomorrow. As Georgia continues to grow, we must recognize that the next drought will be worse. It's time to plan for that future today.

We must plan for the water we need, so that businesses don't hesitate before opening up shop in Georgia, and so that we are never again days away from rationing water.

Our state water plan should not divide Georgia, it should unite us in responsible development and conservation efforts. We believe that stewarding and protecting our natural resources is our sacred duty, and today, water is perhaps our most important resource.

A renewed commitment to education; a family doctor for every family; growing our state's economy; investing in infrastructure; tax reform for those who need it the most.

Some might say that this is the Democrats' legislative agenda. It is more than that. These are our guided values, our principles. They are guided by our faith and fortified by the conviction that we must judge ourselves as a people by how we treat the least among us.

These guided principles are why we fight for nurses, teachers, parents, and children, and why we will continue to fight until we have no fight left within us. We must take a long, hard look at how our state has grown, and how we must grow with it. We must plan ahead, and make the right decisions today for a better, more prosperous tomorrow.

Today, with the legislative session barely under way, we hope that all members of our state's government will put aside their bickering and turn to the future with a firm step and resolute heart. If Governor Perdue and the Republican leadership choose to face the future, we will stand with them.

If they choose instead to turn inward and focus on the political fights that distract us from the betterment of our state, then we will show them the way.Thank you all, and may God's blessings be with you.

Don't Get Mad

Get busy! Georgia Republicans are at it again. They take a break from their inter-party mud wrestling just long enough to push legislation like "The Personhood Amendment" (H.R. 536). Now more than ever, we need more Democratic women serving in the state legislature. That's the mission of Georgia's WIN List: to elect pro-choice, Democratic women to state level office in Georgia. To do that, WIN needs YOUR help.

WIN invites you to come to our Annual Breakfast With Our Legislators. There, you can learn more about Georgia's WIN List and about the critical legislative issues that will impact the lives of Georgia women. The information is below:

Georgia's WIN List


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hear our Senators and Representatives
speak about their predictions for the 2008 Legislative Session and actions that WIN List supporters can take in the upcoming elections.Coffee and conversation 8:00 am
Program begins promptly at 8:30 am

Central Presbyterian Church
(across the street from the Capitol)$10.00 minimum donation
Please reserve your place by calling Leslie at 770-489-6689 or by e-mail at

Monday, January 14, 2008

Edwards in Atlanta, Redux

At this point in the campaign season, it's not unusual for candidates' schedules to be fluid. Such is the case with the Edwards campaign trip to Atlanta.There has been a scheduling change:

John Edwards is now going to be in Atlanta this Saturday, January the 19th at:

IBEW Local Union 613
501 Pulliam Street
Atlanta, GA 30312

2:30 PM

This event is open to the public. Ya'll come, now.

New Poll: Think the Race is Over? Think Again.

Don't gamble on this becoming a three-way race any time soon. A new poll shows Clinton, Obama and Edwards are locked in a statistical tie in Nevada.

Barack Obama: 32 percent
Hillary Clinton: 30 percent
John Edwards: 27 percent

Margin of Error: 4.5%

Breaking: Edwards Headed for Georgia, Updated

Updated: Note Date and Time Change

Great news! On the heels of Georgia for Edwards' very successful canvassing trip to South Carolina this weekend, I just just learned that Sen. John Edwards will be in Atlanta this Saturday, January 19th, at 2:30 pm, for a campaign event, location TBA. On CNN yesterday, I heard Edwards say that he was planning events in February 5th states. This must be a part of that effort.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Harold Fording of Barack Obama

Is the Clinton campaign about to do to Barack Obama what the GOP did to Harold Ford? Depending on the day, the Clinton campaign is either a well-disciplined, well-oiled machine where every word is scripted-even some of the audience questions-or it's a ragtag bunch of shoot-from-the-hip media hounds who just say whatever off the top of their head-and then resign or apologize, but, regardless, capture at least three news cycles with yet another awfully-close-to-racist attack on Obama that the Clinton campaign obviously doesn't endorse. And, by the way, shame on you for thinking that they would. It's all just below the radar. There's always room for plausible deniability. And it's very, very effective.

A seamy line of attack on Obama has been building since before the Iowa caucuses when Clinton's campaign co-chair resigned after suggesting Obama would be asked about whether he sold drugs. Then, Bill Clinton-possibly the best pure politician of our time-suggested that Obama was a role of the dice, and Mark Penn managed to work the word "cocaine" into a statement denying they were attacking Obama about admitted drug use. Today's comments by BET founder Robert L. Johnson while he was on stage with Hillary Clinton reminded me of the attack on Harold Ford during the 2006 Tennessee senate race and were the most vicious yet. You can read his comments here, including this jewel:

“And to me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood –­ and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book –­ when they have been involved.” Moments later, he added: “That kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me, for a guy who says, ‘I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.’ And I’m thinking, I’m thinking to myself, this ain’t a movie, Sidney. This is real life.”

Later, in a statement, Johnson said that he was simply referring to Obama's community organizing, how dare anyone suggest otherwise. Right.

Of course, in the movie, Poitier played a black doctor who was to wed a white socialite. For the uninitiated, Harold Ford ran for the senate in Tennessee and was beaten, in large part, by the now-infamous "Call Me Harold" ad. Here's, from The Prospect is Emory professor Drew Westen's analysis of that ad and it's impact: (it's long, but it's worth the read.)

Flying Hate Below the Radar
On Election Day, Democrats outflanked Republicans in every closely contested Senate race except one: Tennessee. At first blush, this is surprising, given that Harold Ford Jr., like so many of the other candidates who defeated Republican incumbents (Bob Casey, Sherrod Brown, and Claire McCaskill, for example), was an emotionally compelling candidate. However, if we take a look at the way the Republicans used a sophisticated understanding of how networks operate, we can see both the limits of conventional analyses of the ad campaign ("Was it racist, or wasn't it?")
that led to the rapid decline in Ford's poll numbers, and what his campaign might have done to counteract it. The infamous ad, created by a prot¨¦g¨¦ of Karl Rove, was actually part of a broader stealth campaign orchestrated by now Senator-elect Bob Corker and the Republican National Committee. The stealth attack, designed to fly far enough below the radar to allow "plausible deniability" of racist intent, capitalized on the way neural networks work. If I were to ask you to name the first American automobile company that comes to mind, many of you will would say "Ford," even though you could just as easily have responded with one of the other Big Three. The reason is that I've just "primed" your neural networks with Harold Ford, putting anything associated with "Ford" at a heightened state of unconscious activation. The Republican campaign against Harold Ford Jr. played these kinds of networks like a fiddle at Opryland. As Corker fell slightly behind Ford in the polls, he began describing himself as the "real Tennessean," using as a cover story that Ford was a city slicker from Washington. This was a curious charge to make, given that Corker had been attacking Ford and his family for being part of a Tennessee political machine (although once again Corker had plausible deniability because Ford had spent part of his childhood in Washington). The Republican National Committee then ran an ad the Corker campaign disavowed once it drew national attention, allowing him to claim distance while taking advantage of its effects. But Corker then followed it up with another ad of his own that makes clear that the ads were coordinated. The ad that drew media interest began with a scantily clad white woman declaring excitedly, "I met Harold at the Playboy party!" She returns at the end of the ad, with a seductive wink, saying "Harold, call me." The obvious goal was to activate a network about black men having sex with white women, something about which many white men, including those who are not consciously prejudiced, still feel queasy. The "call me" line came just after the ad had ostensibly ended with the following words on the screen: "Harold Ford. He's Just Not Right." When I first saw the ad, I thought the syntax was peculiar.What did they mean by "He's just not right?" That's a term often used to describe someone with a psychiatric problem, and no one was suggesting that Ford was deranged. Then I realized what was wrong. If you were going to use that syntax, you'd say "He's just not right for Tennessee." What the viewer of the ad is not aware of (unless he or she is Tweetie Bird, or has trouble pronouncing r's), is that another network is being activated unconsciously. This second network was primed not only by the racial associations to the ad itself but by the broader campaign emphasizing that Ford isn't "one of us": "He's just not white."

For the record, I support John Edwards and have not made a decision about who I will support should he not be the nominee. These tactics-and I think that are tactics not accidents-do not leave me with warm feelings about Sen. Clinton. There's a an undercurrent around Hillary Clinton-sometimes very, very close to her-that tweaks our worst selves-the part of us that fears, stereotypes and hates. I don't like it, and I suspect that I am not alone. I don't buy the idea that these highly-placed surrogates have just accidentally spoken in error-in virtual concert. Either way, surely, someone who would be President can find a way to shut down this unconscionable line of attack.

1 Out of 7

One out of seven Americans lacking health insurance isn't just a statistic, it's a tragedy. The American Medical Association has a powerful group of ads running to make that case. I don't know why I was surprised to find the AMA telling us to "vote with this issue in mind." It is logical that doctors would be allies in the fight to make sure every American has access to health care. Not only is this position consistent with their mission, uninsured patients are costly to medical providers. A friend who works in hospital management told me that when an uninsured patient presents at their ER, there's a greater than 90% chance the hospital will never get paid. In these ads, the AMA has done a superb job of making the issue personal and emotional without pandering. Excellent. The Democratic Party needs to hire their ad company. Click here to view of these powerful ads.

Photographic Evidence

There's been a little Gold Dome buzz about photographic evidence of a different sort-but what I have for you today is a little photographic evidence of the Georgia for Edwards trip to South Carolina yesterday. One canvassing group that included former Lt. Gov. Taylor, Steve Leeds and Chuck Byrd reported knocking on more than seventy doors and finding overwhelmingly positive support for Sen. Edwards. JRE may just be a South Carolina sleeper! Thanks to all who made the trip. Enjoy the photographs!

Ready to Knock on Doors!

Georgia Girls Have Got John's Back!

Volunteer Extraordinaire': Julie Simon

Georgia for Edwards Canvassers Gather in Greenville

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Scores of Georgians Join Edwards' Fight for South Carolina Votes

Don't count John Edwards out just yet. This morning, scores of Georgians, including former Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, Chuck Byrd, Julie Simon and Steve Leeds, rose early and traveled to Greenville, South Carolina to knock on doors for John Edwards. Some supporters met at the capitol in Atlanta to caravan together, while others from Middle and South Georgia traveled directly to Greenville. This time yesterday, we were expecting about ten Georgians to make this trip, but at eleven o'clock today, Chuck Byrd called to report that more than thirty Georgia volunteers had already arrived and more were on the way. The canvassing trip today is a part of the ongoing efforts of Georgians on behalf of Sen. Edwards. Those efforts include hosting events with Sen. and Mrs. Edwards, recruiting volunteers and fundraising.

You might wonder why, at this stage of the race, these Georgians would get up at dawn-thirty on a Saturday morning to travel to South Carolina. The answer is simple: despite the media's continued efforts to pronounce the Edwards campaign dead, we believe that voters deserve a choice and that John Edwards offers Democrats the best opportunity to win in November. Those of us from Middle and South Georgia also recognize that Edwards is the only candidate of either party who has paid two wits of attention to rural Georgia. Word has it that the rest, when asked to draw a map of Georgia, used I-20 as the southern-most boundary.

Go get those V2's guys! And send pictures to post here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Joe Trippi, John Edwards and the Politics of "We"

In December of 2006, Joe Trippi wrote an insightful piece on MyDD about the difference between the transformational politics of "we" versus the transactional politics of "me." Here's a portion:
All modern campaigns and transactional campaigns are built around a candidate who proclaims to the nation "Look at me -- aren't I amazing?". The Dean campaign (and any transformational campaign successful or not) was built around a candidate who proclaimed "Look at you -- aren't you amazing?"This strikes me as essential. More than ideology, or any other factor -- true transformational leadership can only come from a candidate who fundamentally gets that it isn't about him/her -- its about us. So in terms of 2008 is Hillary capable or realizing that she is not the center of the universe -- that the political world and even her own campaign does not revolve around her? Obama? Edwards? Who? Anyone?

Trippi was dead on the money in this analysis, and in the early stages of the his campaign, it was clear that John Edwards "got it." Last April, just days before Trippi joined the Edwards campaign,, I heard it in Edwards' powerful speech in Macon. Edwards spoke eloquently about how no one can do it alone, about how change does not happen in the Oval office so much as it happens in living rooms like the one we were standing in. "Together we can change this country" was his challenge to us, and at that point if John Edwards had asked me to pick up a shovel or pen a check, it would've been my pleasure to do either. The powerful "we"was evident in the structure of the campaign, particularly in the strong embrace of Web 2.0 and the One Corps program. I have no doubt that Edwards still "gets it," but sometime during the summer, even though he has continued to say "it's not about us [referring to the candidates] the message got muddy and Edwards-and all the other candidates both Democrats and Republicans-ceded the "we" message to Obama.

It is beyond ironic that Joe Trippi, who clearly understands the power of "we," allowed his candidate to move to "I will fight for you."

When the analysis of this primary season is done, I suspect that this change will stand out as one of the critical turning points. Ultimately, the candidate who wins the Presidency, will convince the American people that "we" are in this together, and that "we" need a leader who will help "us" fight to take our country back. John Edwards can take back the "we" message-it is authentically a part of who he is, but he needs to do it right now.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Glenn Beck Completely Missed the Point

Writing about the uncaring medical staff he encountered during recent surgery on his rear and the "excruciating pain" that followed, CNN personality Glenn Beck observes that what we really need in health care is people who "care." Sure, that's important, but completely moot for the forty-seven million Americans who lack health insurance. Before you can evaluate the demeanor of the medical staff, you have to be able to get in the front door of the hospital. The "secret" is both access and care.

He goes on to say:

That's why I don't want to hear anymore about universal health care or HMOs or the evils of insurance companies until each and every hospital in this country can look me in the eye and tell me that they their staff is full of truly compassionate people who treat their visitors like patients, not products. Hire and train the right people, and then and only then come talk to me about everything else you need. Our politicians are right; we do have a health care crisis in this country. But it's not going to be fixed by them, it's not going to be fixed by some government agency, and it's certainly not going to be fixed by throwing more money around. No, if you really want to fix our healthcare system then look no further than the word "healthcare" itself because the secret is right there. The secret is "care."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


In the last municipal elections in Macon, if we learned nothing else, we learned that a positive message of inclusion won the day. Maconites are sick of infighting, backstabbing and "ya-yaing." Experience is valuable. Fresh faces and fresh ideas are valuable. Most of all voters expect elected officials to put aside their personal agendas, their personal differences and work together, sharing knowledge, expertise and vision to benefit the city. "It's not about me" would be a pretty good motto for elected officials.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

No Accounting for Taste

Ralph Reed??? That's it. No more CNN tonight.

Death By 200 Taxes

Want to pay tax on your ATM fees? I mean ,really, the government wants to tax your ability to access your own money??? According to the DPG, Richardson's tax plan may be worse than anyone imagined. Hidden in HR 900 are more than 200 brand new taxes on everything from your wedding to your funeral.

Talk about a "death tax." Glenn may have written his own political obit.

Shipping and Handling

On the not-so-GREAT Plan, now aimed at schools, my husband said:

"If we send tax dollars up the road to Atlanta, just for politicians to send them back down to us, we'd better be prepared to pay the shipping and handling."

That's right.

Clinton Short of Cash?

How in the world do you raise a hundred million dollars and find yourself short of cash? If MyDD is right, that's exactly what's happened to Hillary Clinton. She "only" has fifteen-twenty million left and a high burn rate with her heavy staff. And, rumors are floating that if she does not do well today in New Hampshire, where-like Iowa-voters are turning out in record numbers, she may skip Nevada and South Carolina in order to focus on the February 5th states.

I don't believe for one second that Clinton will officially walk away from either of these contests nor do I think it would be a good strategy for her to do so; however, it is amazing that this candidate who was "inevitable" a few weeks ago is increasingly viewed as desperate and non-viable. I did hear that she's trimming staff, and that would not be surprising. How quickly things change! Obama and Edwards would do well to remember that there is still a lot of territory between now and the convention, so who knows what else will change-or change back.

On a related note, I am thrilled about the turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire. One of the ways things can "change" is through the involvement of lots of new people. Perhaps that's how we break partisan gridlock. As a friend said, not since the 1960's have I seen this level of interest and enthusiasm.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Infighting Grounds Georgia GOP

Gov. Perdue, Lt. Gov. Cagle and Speaker Richardson planned a "fly around" last week as a show of unity prior to the session opening next week, only the plane never got off the ground. No, there were no mechanical problems with the plane-just an inability of Georgia's top leadership to agree on a agenda. Here's what the AJC had to say:

Things are so dicey that when state officials tried to organize a fly-around with Perdue, Cagle and Richardson this week, they were unsure if they'd be able to get together on an agenda.

Can't get together on an agenda? Are you kidding me? Drought plagued North Georgia and metro-Atlanta were on a day-to-day water watch, gridlock keeps Georgians in cars for hours, our schools struggle not to be last in the nation, tens of thousands of Georgians lack access to health care and our three top leaders can't agree on an agenda? These "leaders" are focused more on their own political futures than on the needs of Georgians.

Maybe we do need that prayer meeting.

Does God Watch CNN?

I'm willing to bet that God doesn't need press releases in order to hear our prayers. Today, there is a letter to the editor of the Telegraph thanking Gov. Perdue for holding the prayer vigil for rain. After all, it was raining as the writer penned the letter. Here's a portion:

As I sit here listening to the rain pouring down outside, I want to take a moment and few words to commend and thank Gov. Sonny Perdue and the other civic and spiritual leaders who, last November, took part in the very public event to pray for rain here in Georgia. It was a very bold effort on the part of Georgia believers to conduct such an event.

Thanking God for rain? Good idea. Encouraging people of faith to pray when facing the crisis of a drought? Great idea. But scheduling a media event? Not so much. Don't you think that God would've heard the prayers of the Governor and others just as well had the service been private? I do. If his purpose was to set an example for others, couldn't he have simply called on Georgians to pray? In fact, the Gospel of Matthew has something to say about this:

When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:5-6

I respect leaders who are people of faith, but I don't like it when they use their faith for political gain. I think that's what happened here. The bottom line is that, unless God tunes in to CNN, there was no need for the press to be at the prayer meeting. When the press release dropped, the Gov. crossed a line and the event became more about politics than prayer.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Iowans Stand Up for Change

Congratulations to Obama! The big story out of Iowa tonight is that Iowans stood up for change-and in a big way. The turnout for the Democratic caucus here topped a quarter million, more than 100% greater than in 2004. Many who caucused were new voters, and many were young. A half to a third of that number turned out on the Republican side, and more than half of those caucusers identified themselves as "born again" or "evangelical," clearly contributing to Huckabee's victory. If those trends hold though the the general election, that bodes very well for Democrats.

Obama had an amazing night, frankly doing what I never thought he could do here, and John Edwards also did well, finishing ahead of Clinton. It's clear that the voters want change-now they have to look hard at Edwards and Obama and decide just what sort of change they really want. Not that I think Clinton is out of the race, but I do think she has to win in New Hampshire. We are staying at the same hotel as the Clinton campaign, and her party was here. I would describe the mood as somber. I wouldn't take anything for the time we spent here. It was an amazing experience watching democracy in action. Here are a few pictures:

Sunset in Earlham, Iowa
Edwards Won Madison County

A Metaphor for the Caucus In Earlham, Iowa

Edwards at Steelworkers' Union on Caucus Morning

Banking Votes in Beaverdale

Lauren Benedict, Daryl and I are out canvassing this morning in Beaverdale, Iowa. Yesterday, Daryl and I were in Earlham (in Madison County, where Bridges of the same was filmed) and Lauren was in Indianola. One thing-besides the cold and snow-is consistent: Iowa is John Edwards country!

This afternoon we'll canvass another precinct and then get ready to go to the Renaissance for the after party.

I can't tell you who will win, but Edwards does look strong on the ground and has a phenomenal field team. Fingers crossed that we finish first or second. By the way, his new stump speech: America Rising might just be the best political speech I have ever heard.

Caucus Day!

There was no hope of blogging live last night. The place was too packed. I couldn't move. If Edwards' crowds and the enthusiasm there is any sign, then he's going to have a very good caucus night. I think that some of the excitement I see here reflects the overall strength of the Democratic field. We're headed to Java Joe's to see Sen. and Mrs. Edwards live on Morning Cup of Joe. Then we'll go to the steelworker's union to hear from Sen. Edwards directly. More as the day goes on.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Blogging Live: Mellencamp and Edwards

Wow! No one thought Edwards could fill the house in Des Moines, but I am at the Mellencamp event and it's packed, packed, packed! The doors opened at 8:30, and, already there's hardly room to move in a venue that holds 3000. This crowd reflects the unmistakable momentum we felt in the field today while canvassing. Mellencamp goes on at 9:00 pm. I'm blogging live, so stay tuned!

On the (Frozen) Ground in Iowa

Daryl and I are traveling up Highway 92 between Indianola and Martinsdale, Iowa, headed out to knock on doors to encourage Edwards supporters to caucus tomorrow night. Snow covers the ground-even the geese were sitting in it-and it is very cold. The bank clock said 11 degrees. But, the race is very tight, and every vote is important, so out we go. We left Lauren Benedict back in Indianola, where she will canvass. (Did I mention that she's from Florida and not used to the cold?) Chuck and Melanie Byrd headed out to a rural community. Steve Leeds is here, too.

We got here just in time last night to catch Edwards' press avail at the Steelworkers Union in Des Moines. He and Elizabeth were both on hand and on message. He is finishing very strong here, and I predict a tight race.

The eyes of the world are on Iowa. It is definitely the political "place to be.". Daryl stepped off the elevator this morning and-literally-ran into a blue jean clad Bill Clinton. Our hotel is journalist central. The entire FOX News crew is there. The talking heads seem to think Obama's numbers are inflated. We shall see.

We're spending the day canvassing and then will go to the Mellencamp concert in Des Moines this evening. I hear that the free tickets for that event are going very, very fast.

More later-and pictures and video.