Friday, February 29, 2008

Nominate Your Favorite Female Blogger

H/T to Catherine Morgan for letting us know about Women's Voices, Women Vote effort to recognize women who are using the Internet to make their voices heard. In response to observations that there are fewer political blogs by women, Catherine began a list of political blogs by women. She initially identified just over 100 political blogs by women, but that list has now grown to 337! Now, you can nominate your favorite blog by a women for special recognition at Women's Voices, Women Vote.

This is great timing. March is Women's History Month, and tomorrow, I get to speak to the Georgia Federation of Democratic Women about political blogging. I hope more women will decide to make their voices heard!

Will They Get Clinton's Goat?

Though the Kenyan elders may not agree with me, this is about the funniest thing I have read this week. It appears that Kenyan elders are offended, blame Sen. Clinton and may impost a fine of goats, cattle or camels over Photogate. Here's an portion of the article from Reuters Africa:

Wajir elders resolved to file an official complaint with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, dropping earlier plans to hold a protest after Friday prayers. They said they would also convene a traditional Somali court to investigate the matter. It can impose fines that are payable in cattle, goats or camels."We will go ahead with this case whether Senator Clinton or Democratic party leaders turn up or not," said Mohamed Ibrahim, a member of the clan that hosted Obama during his trip. "But this whole thing can be avoided if only an apology is made."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

John Barrow Endorses Obama

Now, it's Jim Marshall's turn. Here's the story:

Congressman John Barrow Endorses <> Barack Obama
By Sam Graham-Felsen
Chicago, IL – Today, United States Congressman John Barrow (GA-12) endorsed Barack Obama, citing his success in the Georgia primary and his proven track record of bringing change that matters to working families. ...

Pinch Me

I'm not sure what alternate universe I stepped into this afternoon, but after the press conference, Democrats were chanting "no new taxes" and had successfully painted the Georgia GOP as big government tax-happy hypocrites. Plus, more than fifty Democratic members of the House and Senate were TOGETHER with labor and Party officials, speaking with one voice. Now, that's change you can believe in.

Live Blogging Georgia Dems Press Avail

I am at the Capitol where Georgia Democrats are holding a press conference to stand together, and stand strong against what they call a Republican plan to tax our groceries and starve our schools. The message, Democrats are for tax reform, but not for creating 175 new taxes. Rule of thumb-once the door opens to these brand new taxes, they will never go away. Rep. Calvin Smyre points out that from daycare to dying-it will all be taxed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Beverly Hills Bill

Next thing you know, Sen. Cecil Staton will be sponsoring a bill to install a "cement pond" right on the Capitol lawn, especially if the pool company is from anywhere other than Georgia and has made a generous contribution to his campaign. He has once again proven that Georgia Republicans are great at saying one thing while doing another. They're all about local control-except for schools and taxes. And, they're all about small government-except for plans to create a tax structure that promises years of gainful employment for a brand new generation of revenuers.

Now, Sen. Cecil Staton (Mr. Voter ID himself) is leading the charge to significantly expand the role of the Secretary of State's office to include responsibility for the posting of legal notices on the web. Except, in addition to being in your hometown newspaper, the notices are already posted on the web-right here. But never mind that minor detail. Staton and other sponsors of SB391 are hoping to hand the contract for the new web-based service to Global Notice a company based in wait for it, wait for it: Beverly Hills, California. Of course, the company had to be from California because obviously no one is Georgia has the capacity to offer such a service-expect they already do. The Beverly Hills based company will keep 90% of the profits while returning 10% to local communities. Generous, don't you think? Now, those fees are paid to local newspapers by attorneys and others required to post notices in the official legal organ of a local community. I'd say that this bill is a not-so-thinly-veiled smack at Rep. DuBose Porter who owns several papers in rural Georgia if the truth were not a bit plainer. Global Notice has made $1,000 campaign contributions to both Staton and Rogers, two of the sponsors of the legislation. Here's part of what Charles Richardson with the Telegraph had to say:
Here's the deal. This bill is designed to shift payments from newspapers to another private company. That company would take 90 percent of the profits and put them the bank. The other 10 percent would be remitted back to counties and municipalities. Instead of dealing with local folks they know and trust, a phantom company comes along, not to make a better mousetrap, but to steal one, courtesy of our big government lawmakers.Why would they want to push this through? It's simple. They are doing the bidding for a company out of Beverly Hills, Calif., called Global Notice that is in the business of providing Web sites for official postings. Being a company lackey in the General Assembly has become quite lucrative. Staton and Rogers have each received $1,000 contributions from Global Notice. All Sen. Heath received was a cheap dinner at Agave. Far be it from us to suggest a quid pro quo arrangement, but any other explanation defies logic. Make up your minds for yourselves.

I have but one question left: Will the Beverly Hills company have to collect Glenn's sales tax on their services?

It's Official

According to WSB, Congressman John Lewis is switching his support to Obama. Lewis says that he has not spoken to either Clinton or Obama and is switching his vote because that's they way the people in his district voted. What's not clear to me is whether this is actually an "endorsement" of Obama. That's a slightly different matter, and based on the story does not appear to have happened-yet.

Monday, February 25, 2008

WSJ: Clinton Aide Compares Obama to Jackson

Sound familiar? Again, did the Clinton campaign learn nothing in SC?

By the way, I understand that after their initial non-denial, the Clinton campaign has now officially denied their staff having released this photograph of Obama. Good. I hope that's true because if Clinton's staff had anything to do with the boneheaded decision to circulate the photograph, I suspect it will be discovered.

Clinton Has Crossed the Line

Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign has crossed the line. Over the weekend Clinton moved from anger to sarcasm, and then today, her campaign is apparently behind the circulation of a photograph of Obama in traditional Somali dress. (They have issued a carefully worded non-denial.) The implication is crystal clear-this is a simple segue to the fake email asserting that Obama has Muslim ties that was circulated by soon-to-be ex-Clinton staffers in Iowa. I wonder who's going to take the fall for these tactics this time? I vote for Mark Penn. At least when she was angry she was addressing an issue. This specious personal, ethnocentric attack is beneath her. I guess when you plan to behave like Rove, you begin by accusing the other candidate of behaving like Rove. Enough already. Did her team learn nothing in SC?

Just In Case They Try Again

Here's an educational, informative video about HR536 created by SPARK Reproductive Justive Now:

Sunday, February 24, 2008

No One Should Be Surprised

I think that history will characterize the eight years of the Bush administration as a very dark period in this bold experiment we call democracy. Our nation was attacked. We remain at war. The coffers are empty, and our infrastructure suffers from short-sighted neglect. Our current administration embraces secracy for itself while invading the privacy of citizens, all in the name of protecting us from a faceless enemy. And, yet politicians of both parties claim to be suspicious when a messenger of hope for change packs arenas with thousands happy just to say they were there, even if they never make it in the door. First, they whispered, but now they boldly speculate about whether there is something just a little "messianic" about Barack Obama, something a little scary, all in an attempt to make people afraid to hope, afraid to risk change.

In fact, no one should be surprised. In the worst of times, we reach for hope, not for a list of programs. It is our nature-part of our survival instinct. Barack Obama is no messiah. He's a senator from Illinois with a gift for oratory and the sharpest, smartest political machine in modern history. In important ways, it's not even about Obama-it is about the "we" and the "hope" in the message. He has successfully engaged a new generation of voters and effectively made the argument for why democrats should be allowed to lead. There are no skies opening, no angels singing, just the power of we, the message of hope and the promise of change. That's enough.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

No Joke

Bigotry often comes in the protective cloak of humor. You're supposed to laugh at the ethnic jokes, supposed to giggle at racial slurs or sexist comments, so long as they're said with a wink and a smile. If you don't laugh-if you're the one confronts the stereotyping or who throws the flag and says "it's not funny," then you just don't have a sense of humor, or you take yourself far too seriously. Either way, the problem is with you, not with the purveyor of the off-color remark. After all, especially in the "say anything" internet age, shock speech draws clicks, and clicks equal dollars. So, just stick a :) beside it, and say whatever you like. That's basically the reasoning Macon City Councilman Erick Erickson is using to defend the intellectually vacant statement he made recently to CPAC-he was just joking. To this point, I've not had much to say about the story. It just didn't merit a response, but today, Erickson is in the Telegraph "standing by" his remarks. So, here goes.

Erickson's remarks were ridiculous on their face, clearly designed to ignite the controversy that followed, and therein lies the problem. Macon is the smallest big town in Georgia. We all know one another and many of us work together, without regard to political affiliation, to try to make this community a better place to live. Because he chose to run for a position on City Council, Erickson is no longer "just" a political blogger. He is a leader in the community, and his public remarks-that have been and will continue to be reproduced without any clarification-reflect on the community he represents. (Think Jack Ellis.) When he hurls insults at "progressives" all in "good fun," he's not just talking about some nameless, faceless person out there somewhere, he's talking about a neighbor, someone he now represents. And that's no joke.

Friday, February 22, 2008

BREAKING: Official Delegate Numbers for Georgia

It wasn't easy, but the Democratic Party of Georgia has calcualted and now released the following information regarding delegate allocation for Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. The Georgia Secretary of State does not calculate election results in presidential primaries by congressional district, which is how the Democratic delegates are calculated, so the Party had to essentially go precinct by precinct to add up the results and determine the delegate allocation. And, in some instances (like the 2nd Congressional District) the math is so close that the numbers are being re-calculated. Also, I don't think these congressional district totals include alternates, delegates who are elected and travel with the delegation but do not get to vote unless a delegate cannot serve.

Here are the totals as released by the DPG:

Statewide At-large Delegates
Obama: 13
Clinton: 6

Statewide Pledged Party Leaders/Elected Officials
Obama: 7
Clinton: 4

Congressional District 1
Obama: 2
Clinton: 1

Congressional District 2*
Obama: 3
Clinton: 2

Congressional District 3
Obama: 3
Clinton: 1

Congressional District 4
Obama: 5
Clinton: 1

Congressional District 5
Obama: 5
Clinton: 2

Congressional District 6
Obama: 2
Clinton: 1

Congressional District 7
Obama: 3
Clinton: 1

Congressional District 8
Obama: 3
Clinton: 1

Congressional District 9
Obama: 1
Clinton: 2

Congressional District 10
Obama: 2
Clinton: 2

Congressional District 11
Obama: 2
Clinton: 1

Congressional District 12
Obama: 4
Clinton: 1

Congressional District 13
Obama: 5
Clinton: 1

Clinton: 27

Georgia also has 13 unpledged "superdelegates" and two unpledged add-on delegates. The delegates from each congressional district will be elected at caucuses held in each congressional district on April 19, 2008. The district caucuses are open to the public, and any Democrat can run for a delegate position or vote in the caucus.

Georgia's 19 at-large delegates and 11 statewide pledged party leader and elected official delegates will be elected by the Democratic Party of Georgia's state committee at a meeting to be held in late spring.

*Delegate counts for the Second Congressional District are preliminary, until a vote-by-vote review is completed.

Uh Oh

Note to presidential candidates: have your staff check your previous sworn statements before responding to related allegations. Sen. John McCain-a man I respect and admire, by the way-may have really stepped in it, and I'm not talking about the alleged improper relationship with a lobbyist. I'm talking about his defense of those claims that appears to contradict his own sworn statements. According to Newsweek, it appears that in responding to the NYT's thinly sourced allegations about an improper relationship with a female lobbyist, McCain contradicted his own sworn statements, given in a deposition more than five years ago.

When this story initially broke on Wednesday, I was intrigued by the headline and but less impressed with the content. It seemed like a re-circulated old allegation, and the sourcing, though thin, seemed to point to a Republican leak. I couldn't figure out why loyal Republicans would be going after their nominee-unless they knew a bomb was ticking that could explode post-convention and doom his candidacy. Then, perhaps, it would be better to explode it now, in the "liberal" Times and hope for enough distance to avoid real damage to his candidacy. Toss in the likelihood that Republicans, even the cautious conservatives, would rally behind him if attacked by the "liberal media," and all in all, it would be a win for McCain.

But, I don't think that the architects of this leak counted on McCain contradicting his own sworn statements in his lengthy and specific denial yesterday. Americans are a forgiving people and have a short memory. The exception? We really don't like hypocrisy and lies. Just like Bill Clinton's infamous "it depends on what 'is', 'is' ", this part of the McCain story has teeth. His campaign has responded by saying that it really is not a contradiction. I'm pretty sure that most third graders who can pass a reading comprehension test would disagree. Check the story and see what you think.

The Next Sundance? Don't Miss MAGA

Macon is the place to be this weekend. Don't miss the third annual Macon Film and Video Festival at the historic Cox Capitol Theatre. There's more info right here.

Calling All Delegates!!!

There's never been a better year to be a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and if you live in the 8th congressional district, tomorrow from 10-12, you can get the scoop on just what you have to do to get yourself elected. Given the tight race on the democratic side, the selection of the delegates to the National Convention takes on new meaning. Many people don't think about the fact that this delegate count isn't just numbers, it's people who will go to Denver and vote in August. Given the high interest in the race, and the possibility that nominee will actually be decided at the convention, there will probably be significant competition for these slots. The DPG has information about delegate selection posted on the web and is holding a delegate training for the 8th congressional district in Macon on 2/23. There, people interested in running will get information about the steps they need to take to become a candidate.

Here's the info for the training:

If you are interested in being a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Denver from August 25-28, 2008, a delegate training session will be held on February 23, 2008, at 10:00 a.m., at the offices of the Boston Law Firm, 300 Mulberry Street, Suite 601, Macon, Georgia, 31201. At that session, potential delegates will learn the ins and outs of running to be a delegate to the Convention. The delegate election caucus will be held on April 19, 2008, at 10:00 a.m.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

For a little humor in an otherwise intense race: Cats for Obama.

A Hundred Versus a Million

I suspect this might come up in the debate tonight. MSNBC is reporting that supporters of Sen. Clinton have formed a 527 and are seeking a hundred wealthy donors to contribute $100k each to fund ten million in advertising in March 4th states. On the other hand, Sen. Obama's campaign reported yesterday that they are closing on on a million individual donors, an unprecedented number. Me, I'd rather be part of an army of a million that an elite group of a hundred.

By making a contribution to Sen. Obama today, you can help make history and send a message that the keys to the White House belong to the people of this country, not to a few wealthy elite. Click here to make your contribution. And, don't forget to watch the debate tonight on CNN at 8 pm.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

There Does Need to be More Sex In Marriage, But...

This is a whole new version of thirty "meetings" in thirty days. A Florida pastor is set to challenge married couples in his church to have sex every day for thirty days and singles to not have sex at all for thirty days. Sort of turning the typical equation on its to speak. His thought is that by prescribing sex for married couples and abstinance for singles, their relationships could be revolutionized.

This is a gimmick to be sure-not just a gimmick to convey a message to his congregation, but a gimmick that has succeeded in drawing national media attention. And, it's a dangerous prescription for abusive or patriarchical relationships. But, as always, sex sells. But here's the deal-while I hate the blend of commercialism and sensationalism with religion, he kinda sorta has a point. I see countless married couples who rarely, if ever, have sex. There are lots of reasons, and it's often a symptom of deeper intimacy issues, but for many, they have simply gotten out of the habit. In our culture, kids, jobs, volunteer work-a million things-take priority over couples taking care of their own relationship, and a symptom of that is less physical intimacy-and sex is important in marriage. It's not the only thing, but it is a thing.

I've Been in Obama-Land!

There's the proof, a view of Navy Pier from my hotel room. I've been in Chicago, otherwise known as Obama-Land. The headline there this morning was simply a half page photo of Obama with the caption, "The Big Cheese." No kidding. He had quite the night last night, threading victory after victory like perfect pearls.
If you had actually gotten to read any of the posts I sent through mobile posting, you would know how impressed I am with the Obama campaign. Since none of those posts actually made it to the blog, let me just say that I expected to be impressed, but I was blown away by the smart, efficient, effective organization that has propelled Barack Obama to "frontrunner" status. Like an exquisite ballet, what appears to be an effortless, charismatic movement is actually the product of hard, effective, well-integrated work by smart, highly-skilled people.
If Obama is the nominee, John McCain is not going to know what hit him.


There are Gremlins in this blog. I have been out of town doing mobile posting, but alas, the posts are not appearing on the front page. Sorry!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bill, Meet Tivo; Tivo, Meet Bill

Certain to be fodder for many a late night comic, the Associated Press is reporting that President Bill Clinton has a thing for Grey's Anatomy. Stop snickering. Here's what they reported:

In the final campaign push, she's tried to humanize her mother and father. She told students at Omaha's Creighton University that her father built their night around ABC-TV's "Grey's Anatomy."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sources Say

Democratic Macon City Councilmembers Lauren Benedict, Tom Ellington and Larry Schlesinger may be toying with the idea of forming a PAC in support of embattled speaker Glenn Richardson-an acknowledgement of Richardson's recent advocacy for a women's right to choose and the daily bad press the Speaker provides for the Georgia GOP. Embattled blogger and Macon City Councilman Erick Erickson has been tapped to design the logo.

I am, of course, joking, but Erickson, Benedict, Ellington and Schlesinger are together in Athens this weekend at the newly elected officials training, and appear to have a little too much time on their hands.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Big Boost for Obama

SEIU endorses Obama.

This is a very big deal. Last year, much to the disappointment of Edwards supporters like me, SEIU, chose to endorse no candidate-and they could have continued to play it safe. Seems to me, Obama has convinced them that he will be the nominee. The support of SEIU national will not only allow members in the upcoming states to provide "boots on the ground" for Obama, but it will also allow members from around the country to travel to other states to provide important support. Plus, this endorsement seems to undercut the idea that Clinton is the favorite of the working class. Both in terms of real support and perception, this endorsement is a big boost for Sen. Obama.

174 Ways to Leave Your Lover

If you're in love with the mess the Georgia GOP is making, that is. Speaker Richardson's wants 174 brand new taxes, imposing a tax on virtually every service. As a small business owner, I can tell you that if this passes, not only will consumers pay the tax, but businesses will also incur a new layer of administrative costs associated with collecting, reporting and transmitting this money to the state. Guess who will end up covering that cost? You, that's who. And, if you have a service sector business, and you have a choice about locating in say, Georgia or Alabama, why would you choose to come to Georgia?

Of course, since we're experimenting, we want to choose schools as the first subject. What else is new? We need stable, adequate funding for our schools, and local communities shouldn't have to rely on a politician elected by a few thousand voters in some far away district to determine how much money is needed for our local schools.

And the state will have to develop a whole new enforcement department to make sure your lawn guy is collecting sales tax from you and then sending it to the state.

So, let's summarize: more taxes, more government, less stable funding, higher consumer cost, not business friendly.

Doesn't seem very conservative to me.

Here's my prediction. If this passes, it will be the demise of the Georgia GOP. They will be out of power within two cycles.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Richardson Defies Georgia Right to Life

You've got to read this post. It looks like somewhere between the fried chicken and the peach cobbler, Glenn Richardson stood on the third rail for Georgia Republicans and "just said no" to Georgia Right to Life.

In response to a question about whether he would ensure that HB1 and HR536 got to the floor of the House for a vote. (These two measures, one a constitutional amendment defining life as beginning at the moment of fertilization, make abortion illegal and establish criminal penalties.) Richardson reportedly said that he has no intention of having a floor vote on either bill. He said that his concern is for living children.

I agree with him, but the trouble for Richardson is that Georgia Right to Life does not. They would consider every fertilized egg a living child. Somehow I anticipate a statement from the Speaker about how he has been misquoted and misunderstood.

Don't They Get Cable TV in Wisconsin?

Because, based on my last count, Democratic presidential candidates have debated 18 times during this contest, and there is yet another debate scheduled for Texas. Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton has apparently gone up on air with a negative ad in Wisconsin, smacking Obama for declining to participate in yet another debate there. These are national debates. It's not like the policy positions shift depending on the state. Well, not much anyway, and I'm pretty sure they get cable in Wisconsin.

This is a classic campaign strategy, but usually reserved for a candidate who has ground to make up. Challenge your opponent to debate, and if they decline, turn it into a negative ad. Only, here, when there have already been 18 debates, it's a little hard to swallow. Clinton may well end up as the nominee, but right now, on the heels of eight straight losses, the resignation of her campaign manager and her deputy campaign manager and the reports of financial woes (woes that won't be helped by last night's results), going up on air with this negative ad just makes her look weak.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hoe Lee Cow

I just watched Obama's speech in what appeared to be a packed arena in Wisconsin, and then I watched McCain's speech in what appeared to be a hotel ballroom. As someone else said, if you have a choice, don't ever follow Barack Obama. It was like a rock concert vs. CSPAN. Obama even sent a tingle up Chris Matthew's leg, or so he said.

Most thought Obama would win tonight's contests, but I don't think anyone predicted the margin of these victories and the degree to which Obama would cut into Clintons base. He won Latino voters. He won rich, poor and middle class. He won men. He won women. He won young and old, black and white. Wow. Just wow.

I got an email from Clinton's Georgia staff today, and it said this about Sen. Obama: "Senator Obama? No he can't." The problem for Sen. Clinton is that Obama has never argued that "he" can. He has repeatedly made the case that "we" can, and it the power of "we" that has inspired. It is his ability to convince people that, together, we can do this that fuels his momenteum.

You have to love a primary night that has analysists saying things like, "Republican turnout is way down again." And, "Obama could make states like Virgina competitive in November."

Virginia has voted Republican since Kennedy.

Dry Drunk

I grew up in the South, in a dry county, in North Carolina. When I was a child, church was an every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night affair. On Wednesday, we could stop on the way back through town and get cups of cherry vanilla ice cream at Ron and Eddy's restaurant in town, but we couldn't do that-or go out to eat for lunch-on Sunday-because it was the Lord's Day, and my parents thought businesses should be closed. They didn't want to support a business being open on Sunday, so they didn't patronize businesses on Sunday. They also believed that it was wrong to drink alcohol, so they never had any in the house. (Well, with the exception of the homemade muscadine wine the neighbor made, but that was different, just ask my mother.) Now, they never advocated for a ballot measure or for legislation prohibiting business from opening on Sunday or opposing liquor by the drink. It was simple their belief, and they practiced what they preached. (Most of the time... I can remember an occasional Sunday when we might've sinned by going out to lunch-but not many.) My point is this: I don't think that it's a good idea-or even necessary-to codify religious observance, and that's precisely what "blue laws" do. People of faith can practice their beliefs and impact the market place through their personal choices.

In comments about the current debate on whether to allow Sunday liquor sales, Sen. Eric Johnson said, "There doesn't seem to be a compelling reason to chip away at the Sabbath." Sunday is the Sabbath in his religious tradition, and in mine, but it is not the Sabbath for all Georgians. Even if it were, it is the responsibility of communities of faith, not the legislature, to encourage their members to observe the Sabbath. That he, as a legislator, couches it in these terms makes it evident that he is not merely trying to legislate morality. He and others, including Lt. Gov. Cagle, are trying to legislate the practices and beliefs of their specific faith and doing so for political gain, believing that their evangelical base will be more likely to vote for them if they oppose Sunday sales. The use of political power to further a specific religious practice in order to maintain political power just doesn't sound all that righteous to me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Who ARE These People??

So, John and Elizabeth Edwards were gracious enough to open their home and invite some supporters over for dinner. Nice gesture, right? Then, some of those people decided that instead of the customary bread and butter note, they'd call a reporter to discuss what was said. If you see a disconnect there, you're in good company. In particular, according to a CNN report, a couple of Elizabeth's "friends" took it upon themselves to share who, in their opinion is now Elizabeth's choice for President. Though the Edwards' quickly denied the report, that the rumor was spead at all is unbelieveably rude. I've always found Elizabeth Edwards entirely able to speak for herself, and rather candidly at that. Since when do you enjoy someone's hospitality and then go report your conversation to the nearest reporter?

Richardson Skirts Barnes Appointee

When Georgia Democrats handed over control of the capitol, they also passed along the keys to the backrooms, rooms Speaker Richardson adeptly uses to his own personal advantage. In Glenn Richardson's world, there are rules for him, and then there are rules for everybody else, a philosophy evident in how his recent divorce was handled. Even for an uncontested divorce, normal, everyday Georgians have to file and wait 30 days for the divorce to be final. If they have minor children, they have to attend a parenting class.

And they don't get to hand-pick their judge, in this case Richardson's former business partner, Judge James Osborne, a Perdue appointee. By the way, had the Richardson used the front door rather than the back door of the court house, his divorce hearing would have been in front of Judge Tommy Beavers, a Barnes appointee.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Guess Who I Met Last Night?

"Honey, you walked right passed him." I glanced over my shoulder, and saw John Edwards talking with a group of people. "That's okay," I said to Daryl, "I'll catch him in a little while." "No," Daryl insisted, "Stop. He's right there-Dean Smith-he's right there."

And, so it was that last night I got to meet Coach Dean Smith, and it was very cool.

When former Floridian Lauren Benedict called me this morning, I gushed about meeting Coach Smith, and she said, "Who's that?" I gasped. "He's the Dean of college basketball! He coached UNC for years. He recruited and coached the likes of Sam Perkins, Jimmy Black, Phil Ford, James Worthy, oh, and Michael Jordan. How can you not know who Dean Smith is???" Did I mention she's from Florida? Do they have college basketball in Florida?

Back to the point. I rarely fawn over celebrities, political or otherwise, but this was different. Growing up, I spent many an hour sitting in the living room with my father watching Smith coach the UNC Tar Heels. When I was very young, I shed real tears when UNC lost a conference game to then arch rival USC. (Yes, there was a time when the University of South Carolina was in the ACC.) If there were two sports figures my father taught me to revere, one was Dean Smith and the other was Hank Aaron-in that order. And, last night, there was the Dean of College Basketball, standing three feet from me. There was a certain synergy about the whole situation. It was my father who taught me to revere Coach Smith, and it was the working class values of my parents, in particular my father, that shaped my political leanings and activism. Probably, I would not have been in that place at all but for my father's influence, so to meet one of his heroes there seems just about right. I wish he could've been there, too.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Mellencamp to McCain: Stop Using My Songs

Rolling Stone reports that John McCain has been channeling the other John: John Edwards. Recently, John McCain has been using John Mellencamp's songs, "Our County" and "Pink Houses" at his rallies. Mellencamp has asked him to stop, noting that he (Mellencamp) is a liberal who supported John Edwards. "Why," Mellencamp asked, "would you want to be associated with me?" Mellencamp toured Iowa and New Hampshire for John Edwards, and toward the end of the campaign, when Edwards took the stage, "Our County" was blaring from the speakers. You have to wonder whether anyone on McCain's staff bothered to check the lyrics of either of these songs. In fact, in Des Moines, at the rally on the night before the caucus, as Mellencamp started to play "Pink Houses" he told the crowd that he "caught a lot of shit" when he initially released Pink Houses. I'm wondering how McCain feels about these lyrics:

Well there's people and more people, What do they know know know, Go to work in some high rise, And vacation down at the gulf of mexico, Ohhh yeah And there's winners, and there's losers, But they aint no big deal, cuz the simple man baby pays for the thrills,The bills and the pills that kill

No wonder those Republicans were booing him yesterday. Or, maybe McCain knows the secret to success - Romney said he'd never live in a pink house, and look what happened to his campaign, fifty million dollar 'loan' not withstanding.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Price of Power - Or Not

In December of 2003, with the Iowa caucuses looming and little money in the campaign bank account, John Kerry loaned himself six million dollars. That was a lot back then. At least he went on to become the party's nominee. This cycle, candidates have raised and spent obscene amounts of money, and a few have dipped into their "personal fortunes" to fund their races. Mitt Romney, who dropped out today, is estimated to have invested nearly 50 million dollars of his own money in the race, and to no avail. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton reported loaning her campaign five million dollars, and some sources suggest that the Clintons may be prepared to invest up to twenty million in the race. Yet, with Obama coming on strong, the outcome for her is uncertain.

Forget age and birth place requirements. To become President, it appears one must also be a millionaire. Even those (viable) candidates who did not loan their campaigns huge chunks of cash have significant family treasure. There's nothing wrong with rich people running for office. I do wonder about how folks manage to accrue personal fortunes while serving in Congress. (I guess you marry Teresa.) While I am not interested in having a President who has been unsuccessful in their own business or professional life, I think that we would all be a lot better off if the doors to power were not coin operated.

A new narrative?

The Republicans keep trotting out the old "liberal vs conservative" speeches. A better description these days might be "progressive vs regressive." I'm not at all sure what it is that the self-styled conservatives have done in the past 7 years that think is worth conserving. They can't look back on GWB with pride so they seem intent on resurrecting Ronald Reagan. Problem is, lots of the younger voters don't even remember Reagan.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sweet News for Georgia Democrats

Is it possible that yesterday in Georgia, the "reddest of red" states, more people voted in the Democratic Primary than in the Republican contest? It looks like that's exactly what happened. Yesterday, in Georgia, according to the Secretary of State, with 94% of precincts reporting, 1,020,455 people voted in the the Democratic contest and 946,207 people voted in the the Republican primary. Unless there's a big block of uncounted votes out there, Georgia is looking more "purple" than usual.

Have a million+ people ever voted in a Democratic primary in Georgia? (Really, I am seriously asking that question. Has this ever happened before, in a primary, even when Democrats were in power?) And, don't start saying that we turned out more voters in the 2004 primary, too. This time, there was a hotly contested race on the Republican side. If I were a Republican "operative," I would be really, really worried about implications for the general, especially for state and local offices.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Georgian Named to Obama LGBT Steering Committee

One of my favorite Georgians, Kyle Bailey, has been named to the Obama for America LGBT Steering Committee. Kyle, who some of you know through Stonewall Dems, and who others of you know through the Jim Martin campaign, YD or the DPG, says that tonight he is, "really working hard these last few hours to get out the gay vote for Obama...hitting up the bars, clubs, viral campaign online, etc." Kyle is one of many activists who were originally Edwards supporters, and now support Obama. I think Barack Obama has very good taste in steering committee members. Congratulations, Kyle!

I May Not Have to Surrender My Feminist Card After All...

Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL, initially supported John Edwards for President. Huffington and The Swamp report that, with Edwards out of the race, Michelman has now endorsed Barack Obama. Here's part of what she had to say:

Barack Obama, like John Edwards, is redefining what is possible and in so doing he's changing us, each one of us. Many who had given up on politics are re-engaging. Many who had grown tolerant of the intolerable are now ready to demand more ­ and not just from themselves but others. And many who had given up believing that the ideals of equality, dignity and justice would ever again be as politically important as money and power, now believe again. And this too is why I'm endorsing Senator Barack Obama.

Well said.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

For My "Edwards" Friends

We vote Tuesday, and for us Edwards folks, it's time to move on, and I have. I've endorsed Barack Obama and will be voting for him on Tuesday. But, sometimes moving forward means doing some reflecting, and I've done that today. Volunteering for the Edwards campaign over the last year, I met some incredible people who worked shoulder to shoulder with me. Many are just genuinely fine folks who joined the short list of people in my life I can always count on to do what they say. John and Elizabeth were in Georgia numerous times, and some of us traveled to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to help out. I always seemed to have a camera in my hand and took hundreds of photographs. One of the most memorable moments in the campaign was when John Mellencamp played at the Des Moines Edwards rally on the night before the Iowa caucuses. Despite the cold, more than 3,000 people packed a dance hall in East Des Moines. I'll never forget those three thousand mostly working class folks singing with Mellencamp, "This is Our Country." I kept thinking, "if it's not, it ought to be, and that's why I'm here." So, here's my tribute to all those who worked so hard on this campaign. Some never stopped working after the 2004 race. Appropriately, set to Mellencamp, here's my thank you to all of you.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

School Choice or Choice Schools?

"School Choice" seems to be the fix de jour for public schools. (Personally, I think it's more of a focus-group tested political slogan than a real "fix.") Regardless, the Georgia House of Representatives, with some Democratic support, just passed HB 881, a bill that establishes the Georgia Charter Schools Commission. I have nothing against good charter schools, but while the title of this bill sounds benign enough, it's not. This bill creates a state commission, appointed by the Governor, the Speaker and the President of the Senate, with the authority to control how local boards of education spend a portion of your local property tax dollars. That's right. You heard me. Bureaucrats in Atlanta, who obviously know more about what we need in Bibb County than we do, will be able to tell local boards of education that they must hand over local tax dollars to a Charter School whether they think the school is needed or not. Good thing Republicans are all about local control, otherwise they would've asked folks in Alaska to make these decisions. Read Maureen Downey's scathing review of this legislation here.

I don't think that there is a 'quick fix' for our schools and certainly not one that has a catchy title like "graduation coaches" or "parental recruiters." Here's a quick rule of thumb-if it can fit on one of those slick political mailers, it's probably not worth a damn. The real "fixes" involve funding what you say you think is really important, reducing the paperwork for teachers so that they can actually teach, decreasing reliance on these bubble-me-in tests to measure progress, doing all we can do to attract and retain great teachers-and then supporting them by allowing them to control their own classrooms. With HB 881, we may get more school choice, but I doubt that we will really get more choice schools-and isn't that what we're really after?

Friday, February 1, 2008

I'm Not Alone

Apparently, what I experienced with my son pushing me to step up and endorse Obama after Edwards suspended his campaign is happening all over the country. Even Senator Claire McCaskill was persuaded by her daughter much as I was persuaded by my son. Read about it here, in TIME.

It's Obama for Me

Wednesday was not the best day I've ever had. After I spoke with Sen. Edwards at 9:50 AM, I walked in to chair a Platform Committee meeting for the next three hours. Let's just say that, though I did try, I was distracted and couldn't focus on what was in front of me to do much less decide which of the other candidates I would support. But after I got home, I had a conversation with my 22 year old son that first pushed me in the direction I was leaning anyway and then challenged me not to sit back, play it safe and vote but not endorse.

During the day, I talked with someone else who was undecided, and he said, "Well, let me ask you this, who do you think your boys will support (they're 22,23)." I said, "Obama, for sure." I didn't even have to ask them. He said, "Mine, too. Maybe we better follow our kids lead." Sure enough, I checked that with my sons today, and they both will now vote for Obama. I asked my son, Tyler, "why Obama?" He said that he was going to vote for the candidate he believed in. We had been talking about delegate counts and percentages, and he just stopped me and said, "I'm not going to try to calculate who to vote for; I'm just going to do what I think is the right thing. I want to vote for someone whose face I want on the television if the worst happens, for a person I trust." I told him that I was leaning toward Obama as well, for a variety of reasons, but I thought I would just sit back and not endorse anyone before Tuesday. It was the safer thing to do. "Since when," he said, "have you taught us to play it safe?" With that, he had thrown down the gauntlet for his mom. It was time to step up or shut up.

And so, just as I am proud to have supported John and Elizabeth Edwards who embraced a bold agenda for change; now, I am pleased to support another powerful agent for change, Sen. Barack Obama. Sen. Obama has inspired and engaged a new generation of Democratic voters who will help build Democratic majorities in November and in the future. Plus, in Georgia, between now and November, I will be working hard to elect wonderful Democratic women to state and local office. I want the candidate at the top of the ticket who best helps those women win their elections. Without question, that candidate is now, Barack Obama.