Sunday, March 30, 2008

Welfare Lear Jets

From Wall Street to Atlanta's Gold Dome, Bush Republicans are nursing a corrupt culture of corporate dependency designed to benefit the wealthiest of the wealthy. Corporations gambled with the grocery money hoping to turn a quick billion or two, knowing all the time that if they failed, Uncle Sam would be there with a government check to make the next payment on their welfare Lear jet. These multi-national corporate giants will never learn to stand on their own two feet because they know the government will bail them out, but everyday Americans, who find themselves in a pinch as housing values plummet and fuel costs sky-rocket, best not expect help. As Charles Richardson pointed out in today's Telegraph, in this welfare system, bailing out companies like Bear Stearns is a priority, but offering a hand up to homeowners facing foreclosure is out of bounds. The new slogan for the RNC isn't "Consumer Beware" it's "Consumer? Who Cares?"

Not to be left out, last week the Georgia House, led by that darling of the insurance industry, Rep. Tom Knox with back up singers, Jerry Keen and Mickey Channell, passed a $150 million dollar tax break for insurance companies to help them sell the public stripped down health insurance policies that aren't worth the paper their written on. These plans require individuals to pay more than $2200 out of pocket before receiving even basic medical care. That's right, more than 1.7 million Georgians are uninsured and our state is facing a slowing economy, but instead of funding public schools, trauma care or public safety, Georgia Republicans just can't wait to jump on the corporate welfare bandwagon. After all, it's the Republican thing to do. (By the way, there's still time to stop this bill in the Georgia Senate, but a vote is expected any day, so please contact your State Senator today and ask him or her to oppose HB 977. Follow the link above, or visit, register your name and address and follow the action steps under state alerts to send an email directly to your State Senator.) By the way, you folks up in Cumming won't need to send any campaign contributions Rep. Knox's way. Judging from his last disclosure, the insurance industry has taken very good care of their man in Atlanta, just as he has taken very good care of them.

Of course, corporate welfare isn't anything new to Republicans. In 1980's Sen. John McCain's buddy, Charles Keating ran the Lincoln Savings and Loan which became insolvent due to "bad loans" (sound familiar?). The bailout cost tax payers 2.9 billion (a pittance compared to the Bear Streans guarantee) while John McCain earned his place among the "Keating Five"-elected officials Charles Keating turned to for political cover.

So, Republicans preach about personal responsibility, extol the virtues of a free market economy and admonish welfare mothers to just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but they are more than willing to offer up your tax dollars to subsidize corporate fat cats. Why is it that the person who's born into poverty is supposed to struggle while those who have more than they ever need are given hands outs handouts? Look no further than the incestuous relationship between big corporations, their lobbyists and the money that flows into campaign coffers-of both Republicans and Democrats, by the way. Looks like we need a whole new brand of welfare reform.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

See Ya' in the Final Four Flack

That is, if your Jayhawks can get passed Davidson!

So, You Want to Be a Delegate

You just thought the Georgia Democratic Presidential Primary was over. The voting happened on February 5th, true enough, but the actual delegates-you know, the people who will go to the convention in August and actually vote for Clinton or Obama-will be elected in two phases in April and May. If you want to be a delegate for Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama, there's still time to file your paperwork to run for a slot, but, the clock's a-tickin'. There are two ways to get yourself elected, and both start with this application.

(1) One group of delegates will be elected on April 19th in congressional district-level caucuses. For those slots, you must file your application by April 4th. You can find the application here, and here you will find detailed instructions about the process.

(2) A group of "at large" delegates will be elected at a meeting of the State Committee of the Democratic Party of Georgia on May 24th. For that election, you need to file your application by May 15th.

For the first round of voting, delegates are apportioned based on the performance of a given candidate in each congressional district. So, for example, in the 8th congressional district, Hillary Clinton gets one delegate, a female, and any registered voter who is a democrat, a female and lives in the 8th congressional district may run. Similarly, in the 8th, Obama gets two male delegates, one female delegate and one female alternate.

There's one BIG "but" in the process. Would-be delegates run to represent a specific candidate-Clinton or Obama. Once the applications to run for delegate are received by the state party, the presidential campaigns have the opportunity to go through the applicants and mark anyone they wish off the list. Given the slim margin between Clinton and Obama and the little-known fact that none of the elected delegates are actually bound to vote for a particular candidate, you can bet you booties that the campaigns will carefully scrutinize those lists and only allow people to run who they are familiar with and whose support is unquestioned. That's what happened in Alabama. As someone said to me when I was in Chicago-if you want to be an Obama delegate, you'd better bleed Obama Blue. It's possible, though I don't know how likely, that the campaigns will simply pick one person per slot and mark everyone else off the list. We'll see.

I will say this. At the delegate training in Macon and since, I have seen brand new Democratic faces, and that's great. I hope we have a couple dozen people who apply for every slot and that they all get to run. That would be very cool.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Really Wasn't Trying to Pick a Fight With Erick

With these comments, I think Erick Erickson is trying for a three-weeks-in-a-row feature in the Political Notebook. When I posted the attendance numbers for Macon City Council, I did so with a list of caveats that would make most lawyers cross-eyed and really made an effort to just report the numbers without a lot of finger-wagging. Like I said, there are legitimate reasons why people miss meetings, and I got an early snapshot that didn't even include some meetings like subcommittees, retreats, orientation and related committees. All that said, whether we're talking about the legislature or city council, showing up is basic to effectively representing your constituents. I just don't think "vote for me and I'll show up as little as possible" works as a campaign slogan. Doesn't fit on the signs either.

Hillary's Nonsequeter

So, the DNC shouldn't disenfranchise voters, but it's fine for super delegates, or even elected delegates, to ignore the will of the voters thereby disenfranchising them. That seems to be Hillary's argument these days. Clinton thinks that the right thing to do is to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates so that the millions of voters in those states will not be disenfranchised, but at the same time argues that it is fine for delegates-elected or super-to disenfranchise the voters by ignoring how they voted. What kind of pretzel logic is that? If this makes sense to you, please explain it to me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Taking the Democracy out of the Democratic Party

Check out this story on CNN. If Hillary Clinton stays in this race, she's doing a little more than hinting that she will go after delegates pledged to Obama. It's hard to hear this without also hearing "to hell with the voters" echoing in the background. For the second time this week, Sen. Clinton has made the point that most "so-called pledged delegates" are actually up for grabs. Yes, indeed, almost all delegates really function like "super delegates"-free agents, free to ignore the will of the voters. This race has become destructive for the party, and perhaps for the country. There is nothing more destructive than seeking to take the "democracy" out of the Democratic Party. I hope she will re-think this approach.

State Money Slashed for Georgia Sports and Music Halls of Fame

I am hearing that , based on the supplemental budget passed within the last few days, the state allocation for the budgets of the Georgia Sports and Music Halls of Fame will be cut in half. Both are located in Macon and get zero love from the Atlanta legislative delegations. They are at the heart of the museum district in Macon, and if they ceased to exist, that would be a huge blow to downtown. In that same area of town, we already have the struggling Georgia Children's Museum and the large, unfinished new Tubman. How did this funding cut fly under the radar? What did our local delegation do to try to stop it? I understand that the final vote it tomorrow, and that the budget is pretty much veto-proof.


I understand that the Senate Appropriations Committee partially restored funding (that the House cut) to the Sports Hall of Fame & the Music Hall of Fame budgets. Both museums will be an issue in the budget conference.

The most effective thing we can do is to call the Senate & House budget conferees. Senate budget conferees are Sen. Eric Johnson, Sen. Tommie Williams and Sen. Jack Hill. House budget conferees are Rep. Jerry Keen, Rep. Ben Harbin and Rep. Mark Burkhalter.

(I look at this list and see no Middle Georgia names. I think that may not bode well for restoration of funding, especially when there are bigger fish to fry-like trauma care.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Because Afghanistan is So Romantic

The only question left is whether George Bush even recognizes BS when it passes through his lips. Read here, from Travis, what Bush had to say about his envy of the troops serving on the romantic frontlines in Afghanistan. Well, George, all is not lost. As of January, you're going to have a lot of time on your hands and something tells me we will still have troops in Afghanistan. Enlist.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Macon City Council, By the Numbers, Part II

If you're thinking of running for City Council, you better be prepared to attend lots of meetings. Last Monday (March 18th) I received a very prompt response to an Open Records Act request for the attendance records of our current council members. My curiosity was triggered by the reporting and blogging about the attendance records of legislators.

Over all, I think you're going to be impressed with the dedication of this group of elected officials. Eight Macon City Council members have attended 100% of Council Meetings and 100% of meetings of assigned committees. (For Lonnie Miley, that meant attending 19 of 19 assigned committee meetings.) White, Benedict, DeFore, Paris and Schlesinger have attended 100% of all council, assigned committees and work sessions. Overall, most have not just good attendance, but outstanding attendance. Many go above and beyond by attending meetings of non-assigned committees in addition to assigned committees, and that's good because like any governing body, much of the work happens in the committees. Leading that list, Rick Hutto has attended 18 meetings of committees to which he is not assigned.

Since December 11th, of the meetings for which attendance was requested, members Ellington, Lucas, White, Benedict, Hutto, Miley and Schlesinger have all attended more than 30 meetings, while Cranford, Jones, DeFore, Erickson and Ross have attended fewer than 20 meetings.

Because members of council are assigned to different committees, and those committees meet with varying frequency, I am simply reporting the raw numbers rather than % of overall attendance. As you scan the list, you will see trends. As you look at these numbers, remember:

  • The records I have are only through March 14th.
  • The attendance report for the O&R Committee does not include the names of non-assigned council members who attended the meetings of that committee.
  • Some Council members have had deaths in the family, illnesses and other legitimate reasons for absences. I am simply reporting the numbers as reflected in the documents I was provided, not judging whether the absences are justified.
  • Council members have pointed out that absences from some committee meetings can be attributed to attendance at other subcommittee meetings (like animal control).
  • Because I did not ask for it specifically, the attendance at the retreat is not included in these numbers. Also, meetings of subcommittees and related committees are not included, so some members have attended even more meetings than listed here.
  • Council members have pointed out that Council President, Miriam Paris, frequently drops in on committees even if she does not attend the entire meeting.
  • There was an O&R Meeting listed on December 18, 2007. The committee listed was as appointed by the previous council, so it was confusing. There were no absences from that meeting, so it's possible that current members of O&R actually attended one meeting in addition to those listed here.

According to the information provided, as of March 14th:

Mike Cranford attended 5 of 6 Council Meetings, 10 of 12 meetings of assigned committees, 3 of 4 work sessions and 0 meetings of committees of which he is not a member. (18 total)

Charles Jones attended 5 of 6 Council Meetings, 9 of 10 meetings of assigned committees, 2 of 4 work sessions and 1 meeting of committees of which he is not a member. (17 total)

Tom Ellington attended 6 of 6 Council Meetings, 15 of 15 meetings of assigned committees, 3 of 4 work sessions and 9 meetings of committees of which he is not a member.(33 total)

Elaine Lucas attended 5 of 6 Council Meetings, 11 of 11 meetings of assigned committees, 4 of 4 work sessions and 12 meetings of committees of which she is not a member. (32 total)

Virgil Watkins attended 6 of 6 Council Meetings, 11 of 13 meetings of assigned committees, 4 of 4 work sessions and 1 meeting of committees of which he is not a member. (22 total)

Nancy White attended 6 of 6 Council Meetings, 9 of 9 meetings of assigned committees, 4 of 4 work sessions and 13 meetings of committees of which she is not a member. (32 total)

Ed DeFore attended 6 of 6 Council Meetings, 7 of 7 meetings of assigned committees, 3 of 4 work sessions and 0 meetings of committees of which he is not a member. (16 total)

Lauren Benedict attended 6 of 6 Council Meetings, 14 of 14 meetings of assigned committees, 4 of 4 work sessions and 13 meetings of committees of which she is not a member. (37 total)

Erick Erickson attended 4 of 6 Council Meetings, 5 of 11 meetings of assigned committees, 2 of 4 work sessions and 4 meetings of committees of which he is not a member. (15 total)

Rick Hutto attended 6 of 6 Council Meetings, 7 of 7 meetings of assigned committees, 3 of 4 work sessions, and 18 meetings of committees of which he is not a member. (34 total)

Lonnie Miley attended 6 of 6 Council Meetings, 19 of 19 meetings of assigned committees, 3 of 4 work sessions, and 3 meetings of committees of which he is not a member. (31 total)

Miriam Paris attended 6 of 6 Council Meetings, 4 of 4 meetings of assigned committees, 4 of 4 work sessions, and 11 meetings of committees of which she is not a member. (25 total)

Larry Schlesinger attended 6 of 6 Council Meetings, 13 of 13 meetings of assigned committees, 4 of 4 work sessions, and 14 meetings of committees of which he is not a member. (37 total)

James Timley attend 5 of 6 Council Meetings, 12 of 13 meetings of assigned committees, 4 of 4 work sessions, and 5 meetings of committees of which he is not a member. (26 meetings)

Alveno Ross attended 4 of 6 Council Meetings, 6 of 7 meetings of assigned committees, 4 of 4 work sessions, and 0 meetings of committees of which he is not a member. (14 meetings)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

How About Some Curry?

Wow!! Davidson just knocked off the #2 seed Georgetown!! How about those guys? Earlier in the season, they played UNC very tight, and today, they came back from 17 down to beat Georgetown. This is why I love NCAA basketball. And, I know that Davidson alum, Sid Cottingham is very happy about right now. Welcome to the Sweet 16, Sid.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rush Encouraging Republicans to Vote for Clinton?

Hell must be freezing over. Rush Limbaugh and Company are encouraging Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton. I don't swallow poison, I don't listen to right wing talk radio, and I don't watch FOX News. So, imagine my surprise when I read that Rush and Company were encouraging Republicans to participate in the Democratic primaries in upcoming states and to vote for Sen. Clinton. Why? Because they want to prolong the "Democratic blood-letting" for as long as possible, and because they would rather run against Clinton than Obama. Apparently, this effort began before the Mississippi primary, and as a result some estimate that Clinton garnered more than 40,000 Republican votes. Read all about it, right here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam

We've had a few issues lately. This blog is getting spammed, so from now on, you'll have to type in the squiggly letters in the box in order to post. Let's hope this fixes the problem.

Around the Capitol

Regarding the FBI probe of public corruption under the Dome, I heard that legislators have taken to whispering into one another's lapel pins, "I'm just here for the people. Seriously, I'm all about the people."

Obama Picked UNC, I Picked Obama

Actually, both John McCain and Barack Obama released their NCAA "brackets" today, and both McCain and Obama and picked UNC to win the tournament. This may be the only time between now and November when they're both right. And, Obama did better than I did in the first round. I missed ten, he missed six.



Sorry for the absence from this page. I think I've had the flu. Or something very much like the flu. Flu-ish. Victor, in particular, has been watching closely, asking for my definition of "tomorrow" and hoping for the rest of the post on City Council attendance. I'm still checking some numbers and trying to decide the most fair way to report the data. Every member of Council is assigned to committees. Some of the members are assigned to committees that meet more often than other committees, and some of the members go out of their way to attend all the meetings-whether or not they are actually members of those committees. One thing is for sure-if you are elected to City Council, and make half an effort to be informed about City business, you are going to attend a whole lot of meetings. And, if you choose not to attend the committee meetings, you risk being uninformed and probably should avoid commenting on what happened at the meeting you failed to attend. More, I hope, tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Something to think about...

"This war has now lasted longer than World War I, World War II, or the Civil War.
Nearly four thousand Americans have given their lives. Thousands more have been wounded. Even under the best-case scenarios, this war will cost American taxpayers well over a trillion dollars."
Barack Obama (March 19, 2008)

Jim Martin for Senate

Long anticipated, Jim Martin announced today that he will challenge Saxby Chambliss for U.S. Senate. Jim makes the sixth Democrat to join this race, and he has my unequivocal support. I read the announcement, and then I clicked over to the website and made a contribution. Jim brings a wealth of experience and unquestioned integrity to the race. Months ago, I detailed his qualifications here. Welcome to the race, Jim, and best of luck!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama Delievers Historic Speech on Race

I believe Obama just sewed up the nomination.

My sister is my political barometer. She's a SC democrat, but she doesn't drink quite as much Koolaide as I do. So, I listen to her, in part, to figure out how "normal" people are reacting to whatever is going on in the political world. She supported Edwards and now supports Obama, but last week, on one of my particularly busy days, she called me and said, "You better tell Obama to 'do something' about that pastor because I've got to tell you, I can't vote for him if that's who's going to be advising him when he's sitting in the Oval office, making decisions about war and peace." (Sometimes I think she pictures a red phone on my desk that speed dials Obama's cellphone.) That's when I knew the pastor/church story was going to have some serious legs. But today, my sister called again. She had just heard Obama's speech on race, and she said, "I believe this speech will go down in history as one of the great speeches ever given on race in this country. There should be no doubt in anyone's mind after listening that this man can and should be the next President." I then listened to what I do think is an historic speech and encourage you to do the same. I agree with her. How can this man not become President?

The video is below, and here's the full transcript courtesy of MSNBC.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Macon City Council, By the Numbers

According to records I received today from the City of Macon, in response to an Open Records Act request, the vast majority of Macon's City Council members are doing an outstanding job of showing up for council meetings, work sessions and committee meetings. Many council members not only attend the committees they are assigned to, but they also make a lot of the meetings of the committees they are not assigned to. It is to be expected that members will sometimes be absent. People get sick. Families have crises. Things happen. But, showing up is an important part of serving, so here goes.

Based on the information from the City:

Of Macon's fifteen council members, ten have attended 100% of the five full council meetings held since they were sworn in on December 11th. (12/11,12/18,1/15, 2/5, 2/19, 3/4)

The Perfect Attendance Certificates go to: Ellington, Watkins, White, DeFore, Hutto, Miley, Paris, Schlesinger, Benedict and Timley.

Cranford, Jones and Lucas have attended four of the five meetings.

Ross and Erickson have attended three of the five meetings.

As is true with most legislative bodies, most of the "real" work happens in committee, so tomorrow, I will post the % of attendance at assigned committees. Overall, I think you'll be impressed. Nine members have attended all of the meetings of all of their assigned committees, but I'm checking the numbers for one member who seems to have attended less than half of the meetings of his assigned committees. More on that later. And, several members will get gold stars for also attending the majority of the meetings of committees to which they are not assigned. One has attended 18 meetings of non-assigned committees. Want to guess who that is?

Politics and Lunch, Redux

Friday, March 28th at Noon
We’ve heard you. After taking three months off, Politics and Lunch is back and promises to be better than ever. Make plans NOW to be part of the special kick-off luncheon on Friday, March 28th at noon. We will be at a BRAND NEW location, The City Club of Macon, 355 First Street, Fourth Floor and Macon Mayor Robert Reichert will be our special guest speaker. As always, Politics and Lunch is a monthly “lunch and learn” event for all who are interested in how politics connects with public policy and quality of life in our community. There is no membership requirement and everyone is welcome to attend, but there are some important changes:

· We do need to know that you are coming, so RSVP to by 3/26.

· The cost for lunch, including an excellent buffet, non-alcoholic drink, tax and tip is now $15.00. All who attend will be expected to pay for lunch, so plan to come and enjoy a delicious meal.

· NO CREDIT OR DEBIT CARDS. PLEASE bring correct change or plan to write a check to the City Club. The City Club is not set up to take individual payments, so local attorney Jim Rockefeller will be acting a treasurer and collecting the money for the group. Help Jim by having your correct change ready!

Special thanks to The Boston Law Firm and Macon City Councilwomen Lauren Benedict for making it possible to have the luncheon this month at The City Club. Finding a great restaurant with enough space has been a challenge. This is a trial run this month at the City Club to see how we like it and how it works out for the Club. We can help make this the permanent home by giving the Club an accurate head count, so please be sure to send your RSVP to or call (478) 741-1138. See you there!

Lauren Benedict
Amy Morton
Jim Rockefeller

Which Macon City Council Member Has the Best-and Worst-Attendance Record?

With all the talk about the attendance records of our state legislators, I decided that it was a good time to do a little checking on our local elected officials. I started with Macon City Council and did an open records request last week for the attendance records for the new council (from December 11 forward) for council meetings, committee meetings and work sessions. I am tabulating as we speak, and you can check back here tonight for the results. You may be surprised at the results. I'll check on County Commission, School Board and Water Authority, next.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

See Ya' in the Final Four, Flack

UNC rocked this weekend, and it looks like Flack's Jayhawks did okay, too. See you in the Final Four Flack!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Poll: Should Macon Become a "City of Ethics"?

There seems to be a little disagreement over whether Macon City Council should pass the resolution that will make us eligible to become a GMA-designated City of Ethics. This entails, among other steps, establishing a local ethics panel to review complaints and take action if merited. Some council members are just a bit reluctant. What do you think we should do?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

But, Erick, the Way is Narrow that Leads to Life

I'm not sure what Erick's problem is with taking the necessary steps to make Macon a designated "City of Ethics." This was one of Robert Reichert's most popular campaign promises. On the heels of an administration that failed to inspire public confidence, this was a breath of fresh air. Is there really someone out there who doesn't want elected officials and, in this instance, city employees to be highly accountable to the public? Yet, Erickson says that The Road to Hell is Paved With Ethics Resolutions. He goes on to say that he, as a political consultant often encourages third parties who are supporting a candidate to file ethics complaints "at the mere hint of any impropriety." Okay, well, we'll be looking for that...but seriously, how can Council NOT pass this legislation?

But, hey, if a local ethics board makes you uncomfortable, roll the dice. I'm betting a vote against this writes your opponents first piece of campaign mail.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ferraro Out of Bounds

Clinton's surrogates aren't helping her much today. If these comments by Ferraro (one of Clinton's top advisers and most successful fundraisers) are reported accurately, then Clinton best not keep quiet. The level of discourse in this race has dipped to an embarrassing level. Both candidates need to get a handle on their spokespeople. Keep this up, and a once-energized electorate will stay home rather than voting in November.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Martin Thinking of Running?

Creative Loafing is reporting that Jim Martin is considering a run for Senate. I have already written about this extensively. To this news, I have but one more word:

Spitzer is no gentleman

Here we go again. It seems everytime that a politician - Vitter, Craig, and now Spitzer - is caught having an affair, carrying on in a bathroom, or being involved with a prostitute, it is not enough for the offender to say their mea culpa before the media. Instead of having the public judgment reserved only for them, these men who have acted so badly force their wives to share the shameful spotlight with them. How about having a backbone for a change and take sole responsibility for what you and you alone did? Leave your wife out of it. She's not the one who acted inappropriately. Shame on you Eliot Spitzer, and shame on this political tactic.

Gov. Spitzer Needs to Resign

If this is true, it's not even a close call. It is so very sad when bright, promising leaders make headlines like this one.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I Hate Math

But I bet Sen. Clinton hates it more right about now. I know there's this narrative out there about Clinton's comeback last Tuesday-you know, how she now has the wind in her sails. I thought so, too. At first. Now, I think, not so much.

Her three victories were impressive, but it turns out not to have helped her much in the all-important delegate count, where Obama still leads by more than 100 delegates. She didn't cut much into Obama's lead (about 20 delegates), and the ground she did make up is looking more like quicksand and could disappear entirely by the time the votes are counted in the Texas caucus and the Mississippi primary. And, remember, there were no surprises on Tuesday-two weeks out she was polling well ahead of her final numbers in all three contests.

Based on the CNN totals, Clinton seems to have netted a total of 20 delegates on Tuesday. Then, in Wyoming, Obama netted 5. That leaves Clinton netting 15 delegates total in the last week, and that's if you don't count the two super delegates who declared for Obama last week, plus the brand new congressman and brand new Illinois super delegate who was elected last week. That drops her net gain to 12.

Add to that the fact that Texas caucuses are still being counted, and Obama is ahead. When that counting is done, he may well have erased her seven delegate lead in Texas, or even passed her. But let's say he only cuts her lead in Texas by three. That reduces her net gain for last week to 9 delegates, and leaves me saying, "So, what's the big deal?"

The Mississippi primary is Tuesday, and Obama is favored. If he wins, he may completely erase any delegate ground she gained last Tuesday. As I watched the Sunday shows today, I heard Clinton surrogates argue: 1) that Florida and Michigan should be allowed to seat their delegations; 2) that big states are more important than other states; 3) that swing states and blue states are more significant than "red" states; 4) that it is the role of super delegates to supersede the will of the voters if in their super-wisdom they think it's the super-right thing to do; 5) "Caucuses are undemocratic." Funny, I don't remember her talking about undemocratic caucuses in Iowa. In fact, this was her campaign's statement when she signed the four state pledge in September of 2007:

Sep 1, 2007 4:02 PM Clinton Campaign Statement

The following is a statement by Clinton Campaign Manager Patti Solis Doyle.
"We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process. And we believe the DNC’s rules and its calendar provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role.
Thus, we will be signing the pledge to adhere to the DNC approved nominating calendar."

Changed our mind, have we?

But, it's really not about math, is it? It's about the integrity of the process and the will of the voters. The integrity of the process means following the rules and making sure the will of the voters is reflected in the choice of nominee. There may be a way to give voters in Florida and Michigan a chance to vote again, but as Howard Dean said today, the measure of success will be whether the loser feels the process was fair. That, my friends, is going to be a tough row to hoe.

Vic Jones is Going to Love This

We can rely Georgia Republicans to take care of big insurance companies who pour dollars into their campaign accounts. The rest of us are just out of luck. According to an op-ed in today's Telegraph, on Thursday, thanks to Rep. Tom Knox and a quick legislative slight of hand, both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly passed a bill including a provision that makes it unnecessary for insurance companies to get approval from the Insurance Commissioner before passing certain rate increases on to consumers. Here's a portion of Charles Richardson's piece:

So what did the industry buy? The Judiciary Committee added language in Section 4 that will change the way insurance companies raise rates in Georgia. For all the other legal mumbo-jumbo, it comes down to a single sentence: "For all such private passenger motor vehicle insurance (rates) shall be effective upon filing and shall be implemented without approval of the Commissioner."Though insurance companies still have to go through the filing process with the insurance commissioner's office, policy holders will get a bill and be expected to pay it before the commissioner signs off on the increase. There is a smoke and mirrors caveat. Proponents of this sleight-of-hand point to the provision that requires companies to seek the insurance commissioner approval before raising rates on policies that carry mandated minimum coverages. According to Oxendine, 90 percent of policy holders carry insurance above the minimum.

Good to know you're looking out for us, there, Tom. Actually, it looks like Tom is serving those who have contributed rather richly to his campaign. A check of just his December, 2007 disclosure shows a rather tidy sum from insurance companies and their lobbyists. By the way, I noted on the disclosure that in that reporting period, Rep. Knox did not have a single contribution from an individual donor-all special interest pacs and businesses.

If any question remains about whether the insurance industry had a "special" investment in this piece of legislation, all you have to do is check the website of one of Rep. Knox's contributors, American Insurance Association. The headline, Georgia General Assembly Passes Key Auto Reform Measure is at the top of their "news releases."

On another note, when is Civil Justice PAC (trial lawyers) going to stop feeding the hand that bites it?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I'm Not So Sure About This

Soon, Georgia children who have ADHD may carry an additional stigma. If the Georgia Senate follows the lead of the House, then children whose doctors prescribe many of the common medications for the treatment of ADHD would have their names and detailed personal and prescription records added to a list accessible by law enforcement without court order. In fact, all Georgians, including those who are suspected of no criminal activities, who fill a prescription for a Schedule II, III or IV drug would be added to a permanent data base-a database to be created and maintained by a third party, private sector contractor. So, if you have the flu, and your doctor gives you a prescription for a cough medicine with codeine, then on the list you go.

Late in February, HB 455, The Georgia Prescription Monitoring Program Act passed the Georgia House with strong bi-partisan support. The purpose of the act-to curb the drug abuse and associated illegal activities-is certainly compelling, but medical privacy is also important. I suppose opposing such a bill carries the political consequence of facing mail or ads calling the member "soft on drug dealers," but I think this bill goes way to far and offers few protections to patients.

The bill requires that on at least a weekly basis, pharmacists must submit, electronically, the following information about patients who fill prescriptions for Schedule II, III and IV drugs:

(1) United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) permit number or approved dispenser facility identification number;
(2) Date prescription filled;
(3) Prescription number;
(4) Whether prescription is new or a refill;
(5) National Drug Code (NDC) for drug dispensed;
(6) Quantity dispensed;
(7) Number of days´ supply of the drug;
(8) Patient´s name;
(9) Patient´s address;
(10) Patient´s date of birth;
(11) Approved prescriber identification number;
(12) Date prescription issued by prescriber; and
(13) Other data elements consistent with standards established by the American Society for Automation in Pharmacy, if designated by regulations of the board

And, under the law, that information is specifically made available to various people including, "Local, state, and federal law enforcement or prosecutorial officials engaged in the administration, investigation, or enforcement of the laws governing licit drugs." It appears that they would not need a subpoena, search warrant or court order to obtain these records.

I don't know about you, but this is a little bit too much Big Brother for me.

Legislature Scared of the Florida Gators

For once, the Georgia Republican-led legislature is on top of a real threat to our security and quality of life. They are not about to turn those gators loose on our highways-not unless our bulldogs are allowed to roam free in Florida. Never mind whether there's a trauma center available to treat the victims of either the dogs or the gators. Out legislators are focused on a critically important issue: tag reciprocity.

Yesterday a friend received an email from the Atlanta Seminole Club asking her to immediately lobby her State Senator and members of the Senate Public Safety Committee about HB 1165 which will ban or deny renewal of out of state school vanity plates if their states to not show Georgia "tag reciprocity." It seems this uproar began because the State of Florida has different and more burdensome requirements for the creation of a vanity plate than we do here in Georgia, and our legislators are fired up about the Florida Gator tags that have been popping up all over the state.

As I have made clear in previous posts, I bleed baby blue, but my husband went to law school at UGA and is a bulldog fan. I might even be willing to purchase a Tar Heel tag if it became available, but it boggles my mind that our legislators have wasted valuable time during the session when they should have been dealing with issues that truly impact the lives of us in Georgia over this issue. The school plates (I believe we also allow plates from Auburn and Clemson) are a VOLUNTARY TAX that people - let me say it again - pay VOLUNTARILY.

I feel certain that our beloved DAWGS will not loose a single football game just because we allow a little orange and blue gator on license plates. It might even inspire a few more Bulldog fans to pony up the extra for a UGA tag, just to make sure the 'Noles don't take over the roadway. But, regardless, why aren't we happy that these Gators, War Eagles, Tigers - and 'Noles - are lining up to PAY MORE TAXES?

Instead, our legislators look like sore losers who have returned one too many times from Jacksonville on the loosing end of the stick. At the least the Seminoles have a sense of humor because they noted in their lobbying request, "we are fighting this battle with Gators!"

Friday, March 7, 2008

Double Standard

So, let me get this straight. Howard Wolfson, the paid spokesman for Hillary Clinton, makes a purposeful statement to the press comparing Obama to Ken Starr, and that's supposed to be okay, but Obama's volunteer economic advisor compares Clinton to a monster, and that's out of bounds. I don't know about you, but I thought Ken Starr was a monster. The truth is that both comments were out of line and offered absolutely nothing that elevated the debate in this very important election. If Obama's advisor has been on staff, she should have been fired, but she was a volunteer and has resigned. Where's Howard Wolfson's resignation?

Don't get me wrong, I'd like nothing more than for Obama and Clinton to put the gloves back on and refuse to attack each other-that's what would be in the best interest of the Party and the Country, but spare me the double standard.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Live Blogging Hart Announcement

I am in the Bibb Commission Board Room waiting for Sam Hart's announcement. The room is filled to over-flowing with a diverse crowd of 75+. Councilmembers Benedict, Schlesinger, Watkins and school board members Hudson and Abrams are here.

Hart says we are now at a point where we must value statesmanship over partisanship.

McCain Supporter Endorsed "Slave Sale"?

DPG Chair Jane Kidd and Rev. Joseph Lowrey have called on Sen. John McCain to walk the talk and repudiate the statements of one of his Atlanta supporters. I think that the biggest challenge for McCain this cycle is figuring out who he is. Which John McCain is it that he would like us to elect. Read more below:

Kidd, Lowery call on McCain to repudiate divisive comments by key supporter
ATLANTA - Religious, community, and political leaders are calling for Republican Presidential candidate John McCain to denounce comments made by one of his most prominent supporters. McCain, who visits Atlanta this evening for a high-dollar fundraiser, has been endorsed by Pastor John Hagee.
While McCain was effusive in his excitement about the right-wing pastor's endorsement, he has been strangely silent when it comes to disavowing Hagee's extremist, hate-filled rhetoric. Hagee has endorsed a "slave sale" at his church, and advertised that, "Slavery in America is returning to Cornerstone [Church]."
Dr. Joseph Lowery, of the Coalition for the People's Agenda, said, "It's a shameful display of racism and bigotry, and I just can't imagine Senator McCain, who wants to be President of the people, not repudiating these comments."
"Atlanta is the city too busy to hate, and the cradle of the civil rights movement," said Jane Kidd, Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia. "With our history, there is no better place to denounce Mr. Hagee's hate speech than here in Atlanta. It's time for John McCain keep to his promise to run a 'respectful' campaign and tell America once and for all whether he endorses Mr. Hagee's divisive rhetoric."

Sam Hart Set to Announce Bid for Bibb Commission Chair

Today at 4 pm, Sam Hart will announce today his intention to run for Chairman of the Bibb County Commission. The announcement will be made at the Bibb County Courthouse, in commission chambers. Everyone is welcome to attend, and I hope you will. Personally, I'm pleased to see someone with Sam's integrity and experience running for this important post. Some people say that Sam is the quiet voice on the commission. I suspect he learned a long time ago that you learn more from listening than from talking. It is time for Macon and Bibb County to have leaders at the helm who can bring people together to solve the tough problems facing this community. Good luck, Sam!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Kidd Endorses Obama

Another Georgia Super Delegate made up her mind today. Jane Kidd has endorsed Barack Obama. Here's the article. She's right about the Obama-effect on down ballot races in Georgia.

Down in Flames

Richardson's tax scheme failed. Dems hung together. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. He can kiss the governor's office good-bye.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Another Georgia Super Delegate Endorses Obama

Today, Mary Long, DNC Representative and Super Delegate from Georgia, announced her endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama:

“This year, Democrats are graced with the opportunity to choose among excellent candidates for our nation’s highest office. After careful thought, it is my honor today to endorse Sen. Barack Obama who day by day and state by state is challenging politics as usual and engaging so many new, diverse, Democratic voters-voters who will propel Sen. Obama to victory in November and help elect great Democrats at the state and local level. As a delegate in August, I choose to be on the side of Georgians and on the side of history as I cast my vote for Barack Obama.” Mary Long

What David Said

In case you've been under a rock, Kasim Reed has announced that he will run for Mayor of the City of Atlanta. Others contenders who have been mentioned include Lisa Borders. This is shaping up to be an Atlanta-sized rumble.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Elizabeth Edwards' Father Dies at 87

My heart goes out to Elizabeth Edwards whose father, Vincent Jospeh Anania, died on Saturday at age 87. We love you, as always, Elizabeth.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Should Progressive Bloggers Give Dems a Pass?

This should be a lively debate.

Should progressive bloggers refuse to speak ill of other Democrats? Yesterday, I spoke about blogging at the Georgia Federation of Democratic Women's Spring Meeting. (It was, by the way a very well put together, well planned event thanks to people like Tina Simms, Kathy Bird and others. Great work, ladies.) Catherine Smith from Blog for Democracy was also there and chimed in with some helpful information. Toward the end of my remarks, Gail Buckner who served in the Georgia House and then was the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State stood and, in summary, expressed her concern about some things that were written about her on blogs during the last cycle, observed that she does not see conservative bloggers bashing Republicans (must not have been reading Peach Pundit lately) and opined-I am paraphrasing-that perhaps we should not speak ill of our own, and if we do, we should be sure that what we say is true.

Well, I certainly agree with the last part of her statement-that we shouldn't write something unless we believe it's true, but what about the rest? I have taken, and will continue to take Democrats to task on issues important to me personally. I was critical of Jim Marshall for his vote on Children's Health Insurance, and I questioned John Barrow about his statements about children of illegal immigrants. I took a couple of Democrats in the Georgia General Assembly to task for co-sponsoring the "Personhood" legislation and fussed with Kevin Levitas about his position on reducing the number of jurors required to impose the death penalty. I have challenged campaign tactics and the lack there of. I could go on. But, on balance, I spend far more time challenging Republicans than Democrats.

My thought has always been that if we are unwilling to challenge our own, then how do we have any credibility when we challenge Republicans? But, my question to you is, should progressive bloggers back off other Democrats and instead adopt Regan's Rule? If there's a line, where is it?